Question: The union is conducting a "card check" organizing drive at my workplace, and I am not interested in union representation. What are my rights?
Answer: If a union collects signed "authorization cards" from 50% plus 1 of the employees in a particular bargaining unit, your employer could declare that the union is the exclusive representative of all employees without a secret ballot election.
Thus, it is vitally important for employees to know that signing a union authorization card will likely mean that they will never get to cast a secret ballot for or against the union.
All employees have a legal right to refrain from signing a union authorization card. It is unlawful for an employer or a union to threaten or coerce any employee to sign a union authorization card. For example, it is unlawful for a union or employer to tell employees that they will be fired when the union gets in if they don’t sign a card. Employees should also beware of union propaganda that claims, "We already have a majority of signed cards, and we want you to sign in order to show the employer that we really have a unanimous workforce." If the union truly had a majority of signed cards, it would likely have already demanded exclusive representation status from the employer, and would not be wasting its time collecting more signatures.
On non-work time and in non-work locations, employees have the right to campaign against union representation if they choose. An employer cannot discriminate against employees based on their support or opposition to union representation, if done on non-work time in non-work areas.
As noted above, if 50% plus 1 of employees in a proposed bargaining unit sign union authorization cards, the employer may recognize the union as the exclusive bargaining representative of all employees without a secret-ballot election. Similarly, if 50% +1 of employees sign cards (or petitions) against union representation, and deliver that showing of support to the employer before recognition is granted to the union, it is inherently impossible for the union to be recognized as the exclusive bargaining representative. Click here to see a Sample Petition.
Question: If I have already signed a union authorization card, what are my rights if I change my mind about the union?
Answer: We believe that it is illegal for a union or employer to restrict an employee’s right to rescind and revoke a previously signed union authorization card.
The United States Supreme Court has held that restrictions on resignation from union membership are illegal. Pattern Makers League v. NLRB, 473 U. S. 95 (1985). Moreover, an employee has the right to resign union membership at any time and by any manner that reasonably communicates their resignation. Electrical Workers, Local 66 (Houston Lighting & Power Co.), 262 N.L.R.B. 483, 486 (1982). The same rules logically apply to rescinding support for union representation.
If you wish to revoke a union authorization card, we believe that you may do so by sending a letter to the union. You should send the letter by certified mail, return receipt requested, so that you will have proof of delivery. A copy should also be sent to your employer. Click here to see a Sample Letter Revoking an Authorization Card.
Also, if an employee signs both a card (or petition) in support of union representation and a card (or petition) against union representation, then the card supporting union representation is invalid and cannot be used to demonstrate majority support under the National Labor Relation Board’s "dual-card doctrine." Le Marquis Hotel, LLC, 340 N.L.R.B. No. 64 (2003). Quite simply, the two documents cancel each other out. Thus, an employee who timely informs his or her employer and the union in writing that he or she does not support union representation cannot be counted as a union supporter if and when that employer attempts to determine whether the union has majority support. Click here to see a Sample Petition.
Remember: Each employee has a protected legal right to decide whether to sign a union authorization card, free from threats, restraint, harassment or coercion. The Foundation takes no position about how you should exercise your right to join a union or refrain from joining a union. The Foundation simply wants all employees to be able to make this choice in an atmosphere free of restraint, threats and coercion.
To contact the Foundation, you may:
- Send an e-mail to the Foundation’s legal department;
- Fill out our online contact form for free legal aid;
- Call the Foundation’s toll-free number at 1-800-336-3600.
If you would like to learn more about your rights as an employee, click on the appropriate question below:
- If I work in a Right to Work state, how can I resign my union membership and cut off any further dues collections from my salary?
- Can I be required to be a union member or pay dues to a union?
- How can I resign my union membership?
- How do I cut off the use of my dues for politics and other nonbargaining activities?
- What if I have religious objections to joining or financially supporting a union?
- What if I am a victim of union violence?
- What if I want to work during a strike?