Obama NLRB’s “successor bar” rule blocks decertification vote, even though majority of workers want union removed
Washington, DC (September 27, 2017) – With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys, an Alaskan worker has asked the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to review a case in which she and her co-workers were denied the right to vote to remove a union claiming to represent them, despite the fact that a majority of the employees in the bargaining unit signed a petition to remove the union as their representative.
Elizabeth Chase, an employee of Apple Bus Company near Anchorage, Alaska, wants to decertify Teamsters Local 559 union officials as her monopoly bargaining agent. Under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), if a decertification petition garners signatures from at least 30% of the employees in a bargaining unit, the NLRB is supposed to conduct a secret-ballot election to determine whether a majority of the employees wish to decertify the union. Chase’s petition was signed by the majority of workers in the bargaining unit, far more than necessary.
However, citing the so-called “successor bar” doctrine reinstituted by the Obama Labor Board in 2011, the NLRB Regional Director blocked Chase and her coworkers from voting to remove the union. Chase had previously worked for First Student, until the school district replaced it with Apple Bus, with whom she is currently employed.
Although there is no mention of a successor bar anywhere in the NLRA itself, and the Act ostensibly is designed to give employees a choice in their representative, pro-forced unionism Labor Board members from the Clinton and Obama administrations have used the successor bar doctrine to prevent workers from removing an unwanted union after changes in ownership of the employer.
Due to the successor bar and other election bars, such as the “contract bar” and “recognition bar,” workers are regularly blocked from being able to decertify an unwanted union for up to three years. Because the successor bar can be triggered at any time, workers could be blocked for indefinite periods, and perhaps as long as four years from holding a decertification vote. This, despite the fact that workers may have only supported unionization for dealing with the previous employer. Furthermore, because Chase and her co-workers work in Alaska, a state that does not provide Right to Work protections, the NLRB Regional Director’s decision allows Teamsters officials to seek a forced fees contract that would require the payment of dues as a condition of employment.
Chase’s petition points out that so-called “successor bars” are in conflict with precedents from the Sixth and Seventh Circuit U.S. Appeals Courts and the U.S. Supreme Court, all of which hold that a union’s presumption of majority support can be overcome by proof that a majority of employees do not support the union, as happened in this case.
“The successor bar doctrine has been used for too long to trap workers, like Elizabeth Chase, into paying forced dues to a union opposed by a majority of workers. The new Trump National Labor Relations Board should move quickly to end this arbitrary barrier to workers seeking a decertification vote,” said Mark Mix President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “For almost a decade, the Obama NLRB stacked the deck in favor of union bosses’ forced dues powers. The new NLRB majority should move quickly to roll back those one-sided rulings, starting by supporting the petition of Elizabeth Chase and a majority of her co-workers to hold a vote to decertify an unwanted Teamsters union.”
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, assists thousands of employees in more than 250 cases nationwide per year.