President Joe Biden promised during his presidential campaign to be “the most pro-union president you’ve ever seen,” so it should be no surprise that there has been an uptick in union activity before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB or the “Board”).
In a press release issued on July 15, 2022, the Board announced an increase in the number of union representation petitions filed at the NLRB. The Board reported that during the first nine months of fiscal year (FY) 2022 (October 1, 2021–June 30, 2022) 1,892 union representation petitions were filed at the NLRB—a 58 percent increase over the number of petitions filed in the first three quarters of FY 2021 (1,197) and a total surpassing the number of union representation petitions filed in FY 2021 (1,269). In fact, the number of petitions filed in the first three quarters of FY 2022 was greater than the annual number of petitions filed in each of the last five fiscal years. The regions with the highest level of election activity during the first three quarters of FY 2022 included Region 05 (Baltimore), Region 13 (Chicago), Region 18 (Minneapolis), Region 19 (Seattle), and Region 21 (Los Angeles). In addition, the number of unfair labor practice (ULP) charges filed at the Board in the first nine months of FY 2022 increased by 16 percent—up to 12,819 from 11,082—over the number of ULP charges filed during the same period in FY 2021.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2021 the percentage of U.S workers, including public- and private-sector workers, who were members of unions was 10.3 percent—a half point decline from the 10.8 percent unionization rate in 2020. Within the private sector, the unionization rate declined by 0.2 percent in 2021 to 6.1 percent. The degree to which union activity in 2022 with an aggressively labor-friendly NLRB general counsel and a majority Biden appointed Labor Board moves the needle for union membership is yet to be determined.
Stay tuned to Ogletree Deakins’ Traditional Labor Relations blog for more information on labor activity and changing labor law policies under the Biden administration. Important information for employers is also available via the firm’s webinar and podcast programs.