People who practice traditional labor law, like me, are used to throwing around a lot of numbers and letters as short hand when talking shop. For example, we like to know whether it’s a 9(a) union or an 8(f) contract. Management lawyers like myself are used to unions filing 8(a) unfair labor practice charges, and we’re used to the NLRB not issuing a Complaint on 8(b) ULPs. We also know the difference between an RC, RM, RD, and UC petitions – and if you keep reading, you will too.
A “Certification of Representative Petition,” more commonly known as an RC Petition, is what unions file when they have the requisite number of authorization cards signed and seek to have a secret ballot election to unionize a workplace. A union can also file an RC Petition to “raid,” or challenge the authority of another union to represent a particular bargaining unit. One of three things happens when the NLRB receives an RC Petition: 1) there is an election; 2) the NLRB dismisses the petition because it is not proper; or 3) the union withdraws the petition – usually because the union knows it will lose the representation election. In any event, an employer should contact legal counsel immediately after receiving notice that an RC Petition has been filed against its company.
An RM Petition (“Representation Petition”) has two uses, one commonly used, one so rarely used it’s not worth mentioning. The commonly used purpose of an RM Petition is for an employer to demonstrate to the NLRB that the union has lost the support of a majority of the employees. To do this, the employer files an RM Petition, along with its evidence of proof of the lost support with the NLRB. Interestingly, an RM Petition is not available on the NLRB website like an RC Petition is for easy download and filing.
Another document not on the NLRB website is an RD Petition, which is used to decertify a union. An RD Petition is filed by the employees and must have signatures of at least 30% of the bargaining unit expressing an interest to get rid of their union. Of course, employer cannot be involved – meaning instigating, encouraging, soliciting, distributing, etc. in the employees’ decision to obtain, complete, and file an RD Petition. RD Petitions should not be confused with UD Petitions, which are used to deauthorize union. The deauthorization of a union eliminates the union security clause of a collective bargaining agreement during the life of the agreement.
The last most commonly used petition is a UC Petition (Unit Clarification). UC Petitions are filed when either the employer or the union seek clarification as to the scope of the bargaining unit. Clarification is frequently sought when a new job description is added to the workforce and there is a dispute whether that position should be included in the bargaining unit.
While there are additional Petitions that can be filed with the NLRB, the above are the most used. You should seek legal counsel before filing any Petition since the above descriptions only describe the purpose of the Petitions and do not discuss the legal prerequisites and effects that filing the Petitions.