Washington, D.C. (June 10, 2004) – The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) voted 3-2 late Wednesday to consider whether union-opposition petitions signed by a majority of employees may be completely ignored during a “card check” organizing drive. The NLRB announced its ruling in a case involving the United Steel Workers of America (USWA) union just two days after agreeing to decide related issues raised by employees coerced into union ranks by the United Auto Workers (UAW) union at Dana Corporation and Metaldyne. In those cases, the employees’ petitions seeking a secret ballot election to throw out the union were gathered after the employer recognized the union pursuant to a “card check” process. National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys brought this case on behalf of employees at Cequent Towing Product’s (Cequent) plant in Goshen, Indiana. Workers at the facility recently found themselves unionized by the USWA union despite the fact that a majority of employees had submitted a petition expressing their desire to remain union free in advance of the union’s recognition by their employer as their “exclusive bargaining representative.” Cequent officials had implemented a so-called “neutrality agreement” with the USWA union that severely limited employee freedoms. The NLRB’s ultimate decision will impact the enforceability of so-called “neutrality agreements,” contracts between a union and an employer under which the employer agrees to actively assist organizers in unionizing its workers. Under these coercive agreements, employers typically grant union operatives sweeping access to their workplaces and employees’ personal information, strip workers of the opportunity to a secret ballot representation election, and hold mandatory “captive audience” speeches about why employees should be unionized. Workers are typically subjected to “card check” drives in which union operatives bully workers face-to-face to sign union authorization cards that count as a “vote” in favor of unionization. The Cequent workers are seeking a decertification election to decide whether Steelworkers union officials truly enjoy the support of a majority of Cequent’s 450 employees and may lawfully act as their “exclusive representative.” An NLRB regional director had previously dismissed the election petitions, and the employees appealed to the NLRB in Washington, DC. In granting review, the Board will reevaluate its so-called “voluntary recognition bar rule,” the non-statutory, Board-created rule stipulating that unions gaining so-called “voluntary recognition” from an employer may avoid all employee challenges and bargain with an employer for a “reasonable period” — sometimes lasting for up to one year. “UAW and Steelworkers union officials insist that a small minority of union activists should have the power to force a dissenting majority into union ranks,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Employees should be allowed to decide for themselves whether to unionize – free of union and employer coercion.” If the NLRB voids or revises the “voluntary recognition bar” and a decertification election is allowed and successful, the USWA union would lose its power to act as the “exclusive bargaining representative” of the employees at Cequent. The employees would then be free to negotiate their own terms and conditions of employment.