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NLRB reverses course, will resume union elections

AFL-CIO’s Trumka vows to continue to fight ‘the most anti-worker NLRB in America’s history’


WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 2, 2020) — Amid a national outcry to restore the right of American workers to join together in unions during the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Labor Relations Board announced Wednesday that it would resume conducting union-representation elections beginning Monday, April 6. But it did so only after announcing more rule changes that erect new barriers for workers seeking to form unions.

On March 19, the NLRB ordered a suspension of all NLRB union-recognition elections, blaming the coronavirus outbreak. The NLRB said that it took its “extraordinary action to ensure the safety of Agency employees and members of the public involved in elections.”

Unions across Washington state and the AFL-CIO immediately decried the suspension as a “muzzling of workers,” demanding that the NLRB immediately end this suspension and conduct all-mail ballot elections instead. They noted that the NLRB was suspending the ability to form unions at a critical time when more and more workers are seeking to join together to protect themselves at work.

Earlier this week, amid this union-election shutdown, the highly politicized NLRB announced new rules eliminating the blocking charge policy — where union elections can be delayed in the face of unlawful conduct by employers — and making it more difficult for employers to voluntarily recognize unions.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka was livid.

“In two weeks time, in the middle of a pandemic, President Trump’s NLRB suspended representation elections and then made it harder for employers to voluntarily recognize unions,” he said Tuesday. “In other words, the board is effectively sealing off any viable path to unionization at a time when workers need a voice on the job more than ever. Donald Trump’s caustic hostility to collective bargaining has manifested itself in the most anti-worker NLRB in America’s history. The labor movement will fight these actions with everything we have.”

The next day, the NLRB announced it would end the suspension of union elections effective Monday, April 6.

“(This) decision to resume elections is a step in the right direction, but we cannot allow ourselves to grow weary,” Trumka said Wednesday night. “This administration’s caustic hostility to collective bargaining has manifested itself in the most anti-worker NLRB in America’s history. We will continue to fight every anti-worker ruling and grow the American labor movement.”

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