Unfair Labor Practices Charge Filings Up 10%, Union Petitions Up 3% in Fiscal Year 2023
Newly released case processing data confirms that the National Labor Relations Board continues to see an increasing demand for its services. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 (October 1, 2022–September 30, 2023), 22,448 cases were filed with the Agency, an increase of 10% over FY 2022. This was the highest number of cases filed since FY 2016.
The Agency saw increases in both unfair labor practice charges and representation-related activity. In FY 2023, the number of unfair labor practice (ULP) charges filed with NLRB’s 48 Field Offices increased 10%—from 17,988 charges in FY 2022 to 19,854 charges in FY 2023, continuing the increase from FY 2021 to FY2022 when the Agency saw a 19% increase in ULPs filed.
During the same period, 2,594 union representation petitions were filed—a 3% increase over FY 2022. This uptick in filings builds on last fiscal year’s dramatic surge in representation-related activity and represents the highest number filed since FY 2015. In FY 2022, 2,510 union representation petitions were filed—a 53% increase from the 1,638 petitions field in FY 2021.
In another notable election-related development, after the Board released its decision in Cemex, Field Offices received 28 RM petitions filed by employers after being asked to voluntarily recognize employees’ union. Under the Cemex framework, when a union requests recognition on the basis that a majority of employees in an appropriate bargaining unit have designated the union as their representative, an employer must either recognize and bargain with the union or promptly file an RM petition.
This increase in activity in the Agency’s field offices resulted in a corresponding increase in workload for the adjudicative side of the agency. The Board issued 246 decisions in contested cases during FY 2023, including more than a dozen significant precedent-setting cases, an uptick from 243 decisions in FY 2022. The Board’s increased productivity also slightly lowered the median age of cases pending before the Board—from 108 days in FY 2022 to 106 days in FY 2023. As was the case at the end of FY 2022, however, the Board’s case processing achievements were overtaken by a significant jump in case intake. In FY 2023, the Board received 321 unfair labor practice and representation cases, up from 308 cases in FY 2022, driven by a 10% rise in representation cases brought before the Board. As a result, although the Board—even at static staffing levels—processed more cases than last fiscal year, the rise in case intake left 191 cases pending before the Board at the end of FY 2023, an increase from 145 in FY 2022.
The increased workload on both sides of the Agency remains a challenge, and comes as the NLRB continues to deal with funding and staffing shortages. In December 2022, Congress gave the NLRB a $25 million increase for FY 2023, ending a hiring moratorium, preventing furloughs, and allowing the NLRB to backfill some critical staff vacancies. However, the Agency remains understaffed after almost a decade of flat funding. In the past two decades, staffing in Field Offices has shrunk by 50%.
“Dedicated NLRB employees have continued working hard to increase the Board’s productivity, but the continuing surge in case intake has again increased our year-end backlog. Although the Agency tremendously appreciated the $25 million increase in funding for FY 2023, and used every extra dollar to address critical staffing vacancies and infrastructure needs, additional resources are necessary to enable the Board to expand staffing capacity and continue processing cases more efficiently,” said Chairman Lauren McFerran.
“Our committed and talented NLRB career employees continue to process cases with professionalism and care,” said General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo. “The President’s Budget requests $376 million for the Agency, which is much needed to effectively and efficiently comply with our Congressional mandate when providing quality service promptly to the public in conducting hearings and elections, investigating charges, settling and litigating meritorious cases, and obtaining full and prompt remedies for workers whose rights are violated.”
Established in 1935, the National Labor Relations Board is an independent federal agency that protects employees from unfair labor practices and protects the right of private sector employees to join together, with or without a union, to improve wages, benefits and working conditions. The NLRB conducts hundreds of workplace elections and investigates thousands of unfair labor practice charges each year.