The National Labor Relations Board's (NLRB) statistics regarding representation elections conducted under its supervision in 2013 show increases in both the number of employees being organized and the unions' success rates in the elections being held. Notably, this increase in the number of represented employees occurred despite a drop in the total number of elections. Unions participated in 709 "resolved" private sector elections (meaning elections that resulted in union certification and/or had results that were certified as "final" by the NLRB) in the first half of 2012, as compared to only 643 elections in the first half of 2013. However, unions won a higher percentage of the elections they participated in during 2013, and a higher number of workers participated in those elections.
In addition, the number of decertification elections, through which employees sought to terminate union representation, dropped from 131 in the first half of 2012 to 93 in the first half of 2013. This reduction in decertification efforts has served to further increase the total number of employees who are represented by unions today.
With regard to organizing in particular industries, unions won representation elections more often than they lost in every industry except one. Unions won most of the elections in the finance, real estate and insurance industry (80 percent), construction industry (70.7 percent), health care services industry (66 percent), and transportation, communications and utilities industries (64.7 percent). The only industry where unions lost more often than they won in the first half of 2013 was the retail industry, with unions losing 55.8 percent of the elections they participated in.
The NLRB's statistics also reveal significant geographic trends. For example, unions won every NLRB-conducted election in Arizona, Delaware, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Montana, Utah and the District of Columbia. Conversely, they lost every election held in Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota. The most elections took place in New York, California and Pennsylvania, and unions prevailed more often than they lost in each of those states.
Notably, private sector organizing as a whole in 2013 was presumably even more expansive than these numbers reflect, as the NLRB's statistics do not include unions that organize through neutrality/card check agreements that are outside the NLRB election process. Accordingly, employers need to remain wary of union organizing efforts and stay vigilant in their efforts to maintain good communication and positive relationships between management and employees.