Once the union collects the authorization cards, one of three things can occur. If the employer chooses not to context union recognition at all, then the parties need no hearing and a special consent election is held. If the employer chooses not to contest the union’s right to an election and/or the scope of the bargaining units, and/or which employees are eligible to vote in the election, no hearing is needed and the parties can stipulate an election. If an employer does wish to contest the union’s right, it can insist on a hearing to determine those issues. An employer’s decision about whether to insist on a hearing is a strategic one based on the facts of each case and whether it feels it needs additional time to try to persuade a majority of its employees not to elect a union to represent him.
Most companies do contest the union’s right to represent their employees, claiming that as significant number of them doesn’t really want to union. It is at this point that the National Labor Relations Board gets involved. The Union usually contacts the NLRB which requests a hearing. The regional director of the NLRB then sends a hearing officer to investigate. The examiner sends both management and union a notice of representation hearing that states time and place of the hearing.
The group of employees the union will be authorized to represent:
The hearing addresses several issues. First does the record indicate there is enough evidence to hold an election? (For example, did 30% or more of the employees in an appropriate bargaining unit sign the authorization cards?) Second, the examiner must decide what the bargaining unit will be. The latter is a crucial matter for the union, for employees and for the employer. The bargaining unit is the group of employees that the union will be authorized to represent and bargain for collectively. If the entire organization is the bargaining unit, the union will represent all non-supervisory non-managerial and non-confidential employees , even though the union may be oriented mostly toward blue collar workers (Professional and nonprofessional employees can be included in the same bargaining unit only if the professionals agree to it) If your firm disagrees with the examiner’s decision regarding the bargaining units it can challenge the decision. This will require a separate step and NLRB ruling.
The NLRB hearing addresses other questions. These include does the employer qualify for coverage by the NLRB? Is the union a labor organization within the meaning of the National Labor Relations act? And Do any existing collective bargaining agreements or prior elections bar the union from holding a representatives election?
If the results of the hearing are favorable or the union, the NLRB will order holding an election It will issue a Notice of Election to that effect for the employer to post.
During the campaign that precedes the election, union and employer appeal to employees for their votes. The Union emphasizes that it will prevent unfairness, set up grievances and seniority systems, and improves wages. Union strength they’ll say, will give employees a voice in determining wage and working conditions. Management will stress that improvement like the union promises don’t require unionizing and that wages are equal to or better than they would be with a union. Management will also emphasize the financial cost of union dues; the fact that the union is an outsider and that if the union wins, a strike may follow. It can even attack tie union one ethical and moral grounds while insisting that employees will not be as well of may lose freedom. But neither side can threaten bribe, or coerce employees.