Data Signals Trend As Labor Refocuses On Organizing

Recently released statistics indicate that the number of representation elections conducted by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in 2010 increased substantially from the previous year. The number of elections held increased from 1,321 in 2009 to 1,666 last year. Unions won 1,126 of those elections in 2010, an increase from 908 wins the prior year.

With regard to individual unions, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters was the most active, involved in 431 elections in 2010 (up from 373 elections in 2009). While the Laborers' International Union was the most successful at winning elections (with an 84.4 percent win rate), the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) organized the most workers via representation elections in 2010. The SEIU organized 14,343 workers via elections last year, followed by the Teamsters (11,919) and the United Food and Commercial Workers (3,267).

According to Rodolfo (Fito) Agraz, a shareholder in Ogletree Deakins' Dallas office and a member of the firm's traditional labor practice group: "It is clear that in the wake of the failed attempts to rewrite labor law through the proposed Employee Free Choice Act, organized labor has refocused its efforts on organizing. They are targeting not only the public sector but also industries where they already have a presence and those employers they believe are less likely to move offshore, such as health care, food manufacturing, energy, transportation and logistics. This increase in the number of elections, combined with the increasingly watchful eye of the NLRB, should serve as a reminder to all employers of the importance of developing, implementing and maintaining effective employee relations programs."