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Anti-Union Firings Left Unanswered by the NLRB

When a worker is fired for union activity, the impact of that firing extends not only to the individual worker, but to her coworkers that receive the anti-union message from the employer.  According to new research by American Rights at Work, for every worker  fired, 395 coworkers receive the message: support the union and get the pink slip. Employers are very effectively chilling union activity with few consequences.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) only gets a small percentage of fired workers back on the job—leaving the employer’s anti-union message to go unanswered.  Between 1999 and 2007, only 11 percent of the 86,000 workers that filed charges alleging they were illegally fired for union activity received an NLRB offer of reinstatement. Thirty-five percent accepted some form of settlement, rather than waiting for the lengthy NLRB process to get their jobs back.

The most effective tool the NLRB possesses to remedy the chilling effect of a firing is to pursue injunctive relief, allowing fired workers to return to work without unreasonable delay.  Unfortunately, under the anti-worker Bush NLRB, the use of injunctions between June 2001 and December 2005 declined by 74 percent since the Clinton Administration and 61 percent since the George H. W. Bush Administration.

Rather than making the use of injunctions subject to the politics of the administration, the Employee Free Choice Act requires the NLRB to pursue injunctive relief when it has reasonable cause to believe that an employer has illegally fired a worker.  Such a swift and forceful show of justice in the face of illegal employer behavior would go a long way toward making employees feel their rights are protected when forming a union.

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American Rights at Work is a nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to promoting the freedom of workers to organize unions and bargain collectively with employers.


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Unionbusting at "The Office"


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