Analysis of NLRB Elections Shows Quicker Elections, More Union Wins


Since the National Labor Relations Board’s controversial amendments to its representation election rules took effect last April, supporters and opponents alike have asked two questions: Have the new rules served to speed up the election process? And, if so, has this pickup in tempo favored unions more than employers?

Bloomberg BNA has released a report, Election Speed and the NLRB: How Unions Fare in the Representation Process, which suggests that the answer to both questions is yes.

To get an accurate look at the impact of the new rules, we researched the NLRB’s record in the first four full months following the effective date—May, June, July and August 2015—and compared it to the record for the same four-month period in 2014.

The results of this comparison are striking. Simply put, the NLRB fit 31 more resolved elections into the four-month period following the rule change than it did into the same period a year earlier. What’s more, every one of those 31 additional elections was a victory for the union.

There’s more. In May-August 2014, the median length of time it took a union’s representation petition to reach the election stage was 38 days. In May-August 2015, the median was only 24 days.

What this means is that about half of the elections in the 2015 period (188) were resolved within 24 days. But in 2014, only 7 percent of all elections (24) were resolved that quickly.

This is significant, the report says, because quicker elections have favored labor over management for many years. Calendar years 2014 and 2015 were no exceptions: Elections that were resolved within 24 days went the union’s way 88 percent of the time in 2014, and 75 percent of the time in 2015. But because about half of the elections in the 2015 sample clocked in at 24 days or less, this translated to 140 union wins—compared with only 21 union wins in 2014.

So, to summarize our findings, in the four months following the rule change:  

  • the NLRB resolved more elections than in the same period the previous year;
  • these elections were resolved more quickly;
  • unions prevailed more frequently; and
  • the overwhelming majority of the quickest elections went labor’s way.

For a closer look at the data, go online to order Bloomberg BNA’s Election Speed and the NLRB: How Unions Fare in the Representation Process. The report also includes industry, union, and geographic breakdowns of 2014 and first-half 2015 election results, as well as five-year trend data.