Did you know that, according to recent statistics from the Economic Policy Institute, more than 16 million workers are represented by a union in the U.S.? As interest in unionization grows, more workers may consider the benefits and possibility of joining a union.
However, employees could find themselves dealing with union-busting tactics.
What is union busting?
Union busting refers to actions employers take to prevent or dissuade workers from organizing. Parties who engage in these behaviors are willing to infringe on workers’ rights because union jobs correlate to better working conditions and higher wages. And these are areas where too many employers are more than willing to cut corners.
To stop workers, employers utilize a range of illegal and wrongful tactics. These efforts can include:
- Holding mandatory meetings that use anti-union rhetoric
- Retaliating against workers who show interest in unionization
- Rewarding anti-union workers and managers
- Utilizing delaying tactics
- Interfering with scheduled votes
- Spying on union activities
Whether these efforts are blatant or subtle, they can be very problematic. They can also trigger penalties for parties who engage in them.
What are the penalties for union-busting tactics?
When parties interfere with employee rights, they can face serious consequences. Employers can get fines of up to $100,000 for union-busting attempts, and they can be financially responsible for employees’ financial damages, per a 2022 ruling by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
Additionally, the NLRB recently handed unions another win when it made a ruling on situations where employers attempt to hinder a fair election. After enough workers sign union cards, employers can either start negotiating with the union right away or make a petition for a formal election.
If employers use union-busting tactics to interfere with an election, the NLRB will cancel the election petition, requiring employers to recognize and begin bargaining with the union immediately. These efforts will de-incentivize employers from delaying negotiations with the intent of carrying out union-busting tactics.
Workers can protect themselves and their rights
Understanding employee rights is crucial when it comes to unionization. Too often, employers will withhold or misrepresent information to squash organization efforts. However, parties like the NLRB can help call out bad actors and hold them accountable.