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Union Decertification Elections: A Path to Becoming Union-Free Once Again

DECERTIFICATION_billboardIf your employees decide they want to be union-free again, they’ll need to follow the legal process for holding a decertification election. Whether unionized or not, you should know how the process works and then educate your employees considering unionization or those who want to remove an existing union.

Decertifying the Union

Sometimes, employees realize they made a mistake by voting for unionization during a union election. The union may be too corrupt, fail to meet member expectations, do a poor job of representation or become violent. The legal process for removing unions is the decertification election.

Rigorously following the law is critical to avoid tainting the process. At least 30 percent of the bargaining unit (members and non-members) must sign a decertification petition or cards that ask the NLRB to conduct a decertification election. Once there are enough signatures, a secret NLRB-managed decertification election is conducted. If a majority of the votes cast are not in favor of keeping the union, the union is decertified.

Naturally there are some caveats. Decertification elections cannot be held in the first year after the NLRB certifies a union. If a collective-bargaining agreement is in place, the decertification election cannot be held during the first three years of the agreement, except for a period running 90 days to 60 days before the agreement ends. That period is 120 and 90 days for healthcare organizations.

If at least 50 percent of your employees sign the decertification petition, you can skip the election and simply withdraw recognition of the union. However the same restrictions just listed will apply if a collective-bargaining agreement is in place.

Role of the Employer

Employers and employees should be educated on the rules guiding decertification elections. This is an orderly process for removing the union, and legal steps are critical.

Of the utmost importance is that you do not assist in the decertification process or make promises to sway the results. In fact, it is unlawful. If you try to interfere, the union will not hesitate to file an unfair labor practice charge in an attempt to end the process. Even unintentional mistakes can taint the decertification process. For example, you can only accept a signature petition from your employees if it is signed by more than 50 percent of the bargaining unit.


UnionProof has prepared a video that explains the decertification election process. It is an excellent training tool you can use to educate employees generally, or to specifically educate employees going through a union election or decertification effort. Knowledge is the greatest tool for staying union-free.

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