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April 16, 2024

Unfair labor practice charges, union petitions continue to rise, NLRB says


Workers filed 22,448 cases with the National Labor Relations Board from October 2022 through September, representing a 10% increase from the year before and the “highest number of cases filed since FY 2016,” the NLRB announced Friday.
Unfair labor practice charges — those that allege violations of the National Labor Relations Act — rose from 17,988 in FY 2022 to 19,854 in FY 2023, the agency said, representing a 10% increase. During the same period, 2,594 union petitions were filed, representing a 3% increase, NLRB said.
The NLRB used the news to advocate for more federal funding. “Although the Agency tremendously appreciated the $25 million increase in funding for FY 2023, and used every extra dollar to address critical staffing vacancies and infrastructure needs, additional resources are necessary to enable the Board to expand staffing capacity and continue processing cases more efficiently,” Lauren McFerran, NLRB chairman, said in a statement.

After several years of decline, the past couple years have brought a gradual increase in both unionizing activity and unfair labor charges.

From FY 2021 to FY 2022, the number of filed union petitions jumped from 1,269 — the biggest dip in years — to 2,072, the highest number since FY 2015. Unfair labor practice charges saw a similar trend, rising from a low of 15,081 to 17,998 in the same period.

While labor activity may be increasing, it remains modest overall; the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in January reported that the rate of union membership dropped from 2021 to 2022, but this was mainly due to more people entering the workforce. The number of union members increased over the same time period.

While the rise in membership may be slow, workers have shown a high degree of interest in the prospect. According to an August 2022 report from Jobcase, 70% of nonunion workers would consider joining a union, with millennials (76%) and Generation Z (73%) particularly keen on the idea. Better pay and benefits were the leading draws for union-interested respondents.

Greater publicity may factor into the equation. Starbucks and Amazon are among the high-profile companies that have seen a storm of unionization efforts in the past couple years. The Starbucks Workers Union claims membership at over 360 stores, according to its site, while only one Amazon warehouse, JFK8 in Staten Island, New York, has successfully unionized to date.


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