NLRB reverses itself after wrongly undercounting number of technical employees seeking vote to remove union
Minneapolis, MN (September 21, 2022) – A vote to remove union representation at Cuyuna Regional Medical Center (CRMC) in Minneapolis, Minnesota, will move forward after the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region 18 reversed itself and admitted to undercounting workers’ signatures in support of removing the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) from their workplace. National Right to Work staff attorneys filed a Request for Review on August 24, 2022, pointing out that the Region clearly miscounted the number of valid signatures on a union decertification petition. Now that the NLRB has acknowledged its mistake, a new pre-election hearing date is scheduled for later this month.
Employee Laurie Murphy filed the decertification petition for CRMC Unit II technical employees, which includes employees in the laboratory, respiratory therapy, physical therapy and radiology departments, plus licensed practical nurses, engineers, certified occupational therapy assistants, pharmacy technicians, and accredited records technicians.
“CRMC employees would like to work for an organization that doesn’t have to run everything through the union. CRMC is a great company to work for and they care about all of their employees,” Ms. Murphy said in a statement explaining the widespread support among her Cuyuna Regional Medical Center colleagues for removing the SEIU.
“In my opinion, all they are is a middleman that we pay to ‘negotiate’ on our behalf with our employer. Frankly, I feel who better to negotiate on my behalf than myself,” added Murphy. “I don’t see any benefit in having a union at CRMC.”
Under federal law, when the required number of workers in a bargaining unit sign a petition seeking the removal of union officials’ monopoly bargaining powers, an NLRB-conducted secret ballot vote whether to remove the union is triggered. If a majority of workers casting ballots against vote for the union, the union is stripped of its government-granted monopoly “representation” powers.
Those powers let union officials impose contracts on all workers in the workplace, even workers who are not union members and oppose the union. Further, because Minnesota is not a Right to Work state, union-imposed contracts can include mandatory union dues or fees, with nonmember workers fired if they do not pay.
Under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), the federal statute the NLRB implements, workers possess an specified statutory right to remove an unwanted union through a decertification election. Yet the NLRB has invented out of whole cloth a “contract bar” that blocks workers’ right to hold a decertification election for up to three years after union officials and a company finalize a monopoly bargaining contract.
After miscounting the signatures, the NLRB Regional Director cited the “contract bar” as a reason for dismissing the petition. Had the Region not ultimately reversed itself, that erroneous decision could have blocked a decertification vote for three more years because of the contract bar.
In response, Murphy’s Foundation staff attorneys filed a Request for Review with the National Labor Relations Board in Washington, D.C., asking them to not only review the dismissal of the petition, citing the undercounting of workers’ signatures, but also to reconsider the “contract bar” given its role in stifling workers’ statutory right to a decertification vote. Before the NLRB could rule the Region, finally admitting its miscount, reversed the earlier ruling not to move forward with the vote the workers had requested.
“We’re glad to see Ms. Murphy and her coworkers able to move forward with their decertification election, clear mistakes by the NLRB all of which, perhaps not coincidentally, served the interests of SEIU union bosses who don’t want to face a vote of rank-and-file workers,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “The fact that a worker needs our legal support and expertise just to get the Labor Board to do really simple math is just the latest example of how the NLRB is biased against workers who oppose coercive unionization.”
Union Seeking to Destroy Ballots of Cuyuna Regional Medical Center Clerical Workers Who Want to Remove SEIU
The technical employees covered by Murphy’s petition are not the only group of workers at Cuyuna Regional Medical Center seeking to free themselves of unwanted SEIU so-called “representation.” Also with free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, CRMC employee Terri Larson filed a separate decertification petition for clerical employees working in the business office or medical records department.
The clerical employees’ petition was promptly processed by the NLRB and a mail-ballot decertification election has already taken place. However, before the votes could be counted, the SEIU sought to block the election by filing “blocking charge” allegations. Now, not only are the votes impounded, the NLRB has announced it intends to decide whether or not to destroy the ballots at the request of SEIU lawyers.
“As this situation shows, winning the right to hold a decertification vote is often just the beginning for workers seeking to free themselves from union wanted union ‘representation,’” added Mix. “Biased NLRB-invented procedures give union officials the ability to block the tallying of votes against the union, often indefinitely, leaving workers trapped in union ranks they overwhelmingly oppose.”
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 around 250 cases nationwide per year.