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How to File for a Union Election

October 13, 2023

If your business is forming a union, you are likely wondering how hard it is to unionize.  It can be a time-consuming process that can take over a year before your union is fully-established and members notice the effects of unionization. In truth, the barriers that prevent unions from establishing are often put in place by the businesses and corporations that do not want workers organizing for their rights, but the rest of the process is fairly straightforward.

With the help of resources from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and online union election services from ElectionBuddy, filing for union elections can be streamlined and efficient!

Steps to Conducting Union Elections

In order to conduct a union election to establish your union, you must abide by the NLRB’s regulations to enjoy their support and recognition of your union. To file for a union election, you need to:

  • Attain support from the appropriate number of employees at your workplace
  • Document this support in the form of a petition, support cards, and other relevant documentation
  • Have your employer post a Notice of Petition for Election
  • Work with NLRB agents to seek an election agreement with your employer
  • Organize your election
  • Vote

Let’s dive into each step more in-depth so you can prepare for your union election, including information about union elections for established unions.

How Many Employees Do You Need to Start a Union?

In order for your union to even begin qualifying for NLRB resources, you need at least 30% of qualified employees in your workplace to support the formation of a union. That number can be three employees or 300, as long as it makes up 30% of the employee workforce at your place of employment.

Remember, managers, supervisors, domestic workers, agricultural workers, and more typically do not qualify as employees. If you are unsure if you qualify as an employee or if your industry is union-exempt, visit the NLRB website for more information.

File Petition and Other Associated Documents

The first step in your election process is submitting your petition, support cards, and other associated documents to the nearest NLRB regional office. This documentation should reflect that 30% or more of qualified employees support the institution of a union.

The NLRB agents will then verify that it has jurisdiction in this area, the union is qualified (all employees qualify and it is an industry that qualifies), and that there are no existing labor contracts or recent elections that would bar this election. 

Employer Posts Notice of Petition for Election

Once your petition is filed with the NLRB, your employer is required to post a ‘notice of petition for election’ in obvious places, especially in all places where employees customarily reference notices (for example, on a corkboard in the breakroom or near water coolers). 

If your employer usually communicates with union-qualifying employees via email or other electronic means, they must also advertise the notice of petition for election through those same avenues.

The NLRB Organizes an Election Agreement

Next, the NLRB will seek an election agreement between the union, employer, and other relevant parties to determine:

  • The date and time of the vote
  • The place for the election, including ballot information and languages
  • The appropriate unit
  • The method to determine who is eligible to vote

Once this information is agreed upon by all parties, they authorize the NLRB Regional Director to conduct the election. Usually elections are held on the earliest practicable date after the director’s order or authorization, so this date varies depending on the situation.

The employer must now post a Notice of Election to replace the previous posts of Notice of Petition for Election.

Election Takes Place

Now, the election finally takes place. Unions often connect with ElectionBuddy for secure, streamlined election processes and resources that can increase voter turnout. Unions only remain strong when they have active, engaged members, and ElectionBuddy’s tools and resources make engagement easy.

If the Union Is Already Established

If a union is already established, competing unions may file an election petition when the labor contract has expired or will soon. Just like with starting a union from scratch, the new union must acquire support from 30% of qualified employees.

If there is an election to certify or decertify a union, the majority of votes cast will determine the result. For the most efficient online elections, ElectionBuddy has your back!

Join 11,984+ organizations like yours that use ElectionBuddy to build more easy online elections

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