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New report finds inequity before labor boards

New data from the National Labor Relations Board found a 16% increase in unfair labor practice charges against employers in the first half of 2023.

Unionization election petitions have also increased.

The trend is likely attributable to “more union-friendly board policies, as well as more favorable economic conditions and public opinions toward unions,” wrote Law360 in coverage of the data.

Driving those changes is “explicitly pro-union” President Biden and NLRB general counsel Jennifer Abruzzo, who has pushed aggressively to expand union power. This type of power structure has incentivized unionization and unfair labor practice filings.

“It feels more like there’s a chance that your charge won’t be dismissed,” said Kate Bronfenbrenner, professor at Cornell University‘s Industrial and Labor Relations School. “It’s a different climate.”

But the opposite is true when a federal employee files an unfair labor practice against their union.

In a new report from Americans for Fair Treatment, public data from the Federal Labor Relations Association (FLRA) shows how the scales are tipped in unions’ favor.

The report found:

  • Between December 2015 and December 2022, fewer than 1% of individuals’ charges by federal employees against their union resulted in an enforcement action. Of the 1,211 cases brought by individuals in the seven-year-period, just 9 resulted in an FLRA complaint against the union.
  • Two unions—the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) and National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU)—accounted for the overwhelming majority of charges filed by individuals. Of the 1,211 charges, 935 were filed against AFGE, and 108 were filed against NTEU.
  • Fewer than 1% of individuals’ charges resulted in a settlement of some kind. Of the 1,211 cases brought by individuals, just 12 resulted in a private or bilateral settlement.
  • Over 52% of individuals’ charges were dismissed. Of the 1,211 cases brought by individuals, 636 were dismissed in full; another 2 were dismissed in part.
  • Over 45% of individuals’ charges were withdrawn by the individual at some point prior to a determination. Of the 1,211 cases brought by individuals, 552 were marked as withdrawn.

As government agency leaders continue to push policies expanding union power, public employees struggle to hold their unions accountable. 

Isabel Blank

Isabel Blank is Communications Director at Americans for Fair Treatment, a community of current and former public-sector employees offering resources and support to exercise their First Amendment rights. Prior to joining Americans for Fair Treatment in 2021, Isabel worked in media relations at Travelers Insurance and held government affairs and communications roles with Yankee Institute. She has a master’s degree in public administration and a bachelor’s degree in political science and Spanish, both from the University of Connecticut (Go Huskies!). Isabel loves Crossfit and supporting her local Connecticut breweries.