According to a recent Gallup poll, 71 percent of Americans “approve of labor unions,” up three percentage points from 2021.
This represents a generational high-water mark for union support – the last time Gallup measured a higher union approval rating among the American public was 1959 when 73 Americans approved of labor unions. Prior to this year, union support had remained lower than 70% ever since union support dropped to 66 percent in 1967. The low-water mark was reached in 2009 when unions enjoyed only 48% support from the American public.
Thus, while 84% of Americans surveyed still responded that neither they nor anyone in their household, are a member of a labor union, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) reported on July 15, 2022, that the first three quarters of 2022 saw a 58% increase in union election petitions, already exceeding all of 2021’s filed petitions.
Unions also continue to win a clear majority of elections. According to Bloomberg Law’s NLRB Elections database, of the 947 resolved NLRB election petitions filed in 2022, the petitioning Union has won more than 76% of them.
The Unions filing the most union election petitions in 2022 include the Service Employees International Union (443 representation election petitions filed in 2022, winning 81.2%), followed by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (205 representation election petitions filed in 2022, winning 70.4%), and the United Food & Commercial Workers (170 representation election petitions filed in 2022, winning 75.9%).
This increase in union organizing activity has also brought a 16% increase in Unfair Labor Practice charges filed with the NLRB over the last year.
Given the current Administration’s explicit goal of supporting unions and labor organizing, this increase in activity is not surprising. As a result, now is the time for employers to assess whether their workplace is vulnerable to an organizing effort. Such an assessment should include a review of and updates to managerial practices and philosophies to help maintain a positive, collaborative, issue-free workplace, as well as a review of work rules and policies to ensure compliance with the National Labor Relations Act and related NLRB decisions and guidance. Finally, supervisors should also be trained to identify, report and address any issues or questions employees may have.
Husch Blackwell’s Labor Law Insider team is available to answer any questions your company may have.