Employees who no longer want to be represented by their union must decertify their union. Without decertifying their union, they are still represented by the union, and unless they deauthorized the union, employees must still pay union dues. Decertifying a union is not easy.
The first step to decertifying a union is to file a decertification petition with the NLRB. Decertification petitions can only be filed during one of two time frames. First, decertification petitions can be filed no more than 90 days and no less than 60 days before the expiration of a collective bargaining agreement. Thus, employees have a one-month period three months before the expiration of their contract in which they can file a decertification petition. Second, decertification petitions can be filed after the collective bargaining agreement has expired. Since may agreements are extended during bargaining and never expire (because employers do not want the threat of a strike), employees electing this option risk missing the window to file the decertification petition.
Once a decertification petition is filed with the NLRB, a campaign period is triggered, and an election will be held a few weeks later. A majority of the votes cast must vote be in favor of decertification for it to become effective. A successful decertification election results in freeing the employees from union representation, from paying union dues, and from living under the restricted confines of a collective bargaining agreement.
Unions are generally adversarial and confrontational during the decertification process. After all, without the employees’ dues, the union cannot continue to exist. Employers can expect unions to file unfair labor practice charges alleging employer interference with the decertification process. Because of this, Austin Legal highly recommends legal counsel during each step of the decertification process.