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Out of Control: Employer Misconduct During Organizing
Written by Erin Johansson   
September 17, 2008

It’s hard to imagine that our American democracy would survive if in nearly half of political elections held, there were allegations of illegal coercion and intimidation, and if four in 10 elections never took place because of such intimidation. Yet this is the situation facing workers attempting to form unions through National Labor Relations Board elections, according to new statistics released by American Rights at Work.

As soon as workers file a petition with the NLRB to hold an election, employers often try to prevent the vote from ever taking place. In four out of 10 cases, workers who ask for an NLRB-supervised election don’t even get a chance to vote. And when an election does take place, workers allege that employers engage in illegal intimidation an astounding 46 percent of the time. Such intimidation includes firing union supporters, threatening to shut down the workplace even when such claims are unfounded, and bribing workers into voting against the union.

Since the inception of Eye on the NLRB in 2004, we’ve tried to illustrate the failure of the NLRB election process to protect workers from employer intimidation and guarantee their free choice. Thanks to data from the agency itself, these new numbers provide more evidence of why these sham elections are in need of reform. The next Congress has an opportunity to rein in this employer lawlessness by passing the Employee Free Choice Act, which would increase penalties and enforcement.