According to Bloomberg BNA’s annual report, while the number of elections held decreased slightly, the percentage of those elections won by unions increased slightly. The Board conducted 1,377 elections in 2013, down slightly from 1,385 in 2012. Unions won 882 of those elections, up from 877 wins in 2012. The union win rate of 64.1 percent in 2013 is up slightly from 63.3 percent the year before.
Unions organized 89,138 workers through NLRB elections in 2013, up from 50,082 workers the previous year. These statistics do not reflect the full extent of organizing conducted by unions since many of them organize through other methods including neutrality and card-check recognition agreements. The Teamsters led all unions by participating in 351 representation elections, winning 199 of them. For the fourth year in a row, the SEIU organized the most workers – 53,472 followed by the Teamsters with 7,179 and the Machinists with 3,560.
By bargaining unit size, unions had the greatest organizing successes among smaller units, further proving that micro units are on the rise since it is easier to organize 5 out of 9 people than 50 out of 90 people. Unions won 67.1 percent of the 957 elections involving bargaining units of 49 or fewer workers last year and 63 percent of 208 elections involving units of 50-99 workers. Unions won 46.7 percent of the 15 elections held in units of 500 workers or more.
After mining, with a 100% win rate, the industries with the next highest union win rates in 2013 were finance, insurance, and real estate (73.8%); health care services (71.1%); the services sector as a whole (70.1%) and transportation, communications, and utilities (69%). Unions lost most of the elections in manufacturing (45.3%) and retail (43.6%).
Together, these stats prove how unionization has shifted from organizing industrial workers to organizing service sector workers. A large reason for this shift is likely a result of traditionally union-heavy industries understanding the importance of union avoidance training and learning how to combat organizing drives. Conversely, service sector employers rarely conduct union avoidance training and are left exposed as low hanging fruit vulnerable to union organizing campaigns. Union organizing techniques have changed, corporate targets have changed; companies must keep up with these changes. After all, it’s not your grandpa’s labor union you have to deal with.