During a union organizing campaign, one employee told another that if the Union did not get voted in and employees complained about their working conditions, she would punch them in the face. Another employee told three co-workers that if the Union did not get in she would damage the cars and injure the bodies of people who voted against the Union. These threats were repeated to other voters, and the Union won the election by a tally of 34 – 32 votes.

The Company argued that the Union should not have won because the threats tainted the extremely close election. The hearing officer agreed with the Company. Although he found the threats were initially made in a casual and light-hearted fashion, even eliciting laughter, when repeated, “those additional employees were not in a position to judge” whether the original statements were made in jest. On appeal, the National Labor Relations Board overruled the hearing officer’s decision. The unfortunateness of the Board’s ruling is illuminated given that if just one person voted for the union who would not have voted for the union had he not heard the threats, the Company would have won the election.