Concerns Regarding Impact of Employee Charges Against Employers for Unfair Labor Practices

HRD-82-80: Published: Jun 21, 1982. Publicly Released: Jul 6, 1982.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the National Labor Relations Board's (NLRB) unfair labor practice cases and the union election cases handled by the NLRB regional offices. GAO also examined the NLRB case processing system.

The most frequent unfair labor practice charge filed by employees is illegal firing or other discrimination for union involvement. Sample data showed that employers were charged with unfair labor practice discrimination more frequently during a union-organizing campaign than after a union had been established. About 57 percent of the fired employees responding to a GAO questionnaire were fired during a union-organizing campaign and remained unemployed for an average of 20 weeks. Since being fired, most of the individuals have not been involved in union activities. Unions were more successful in campaigns in which no employee discrimination occurred than in those which involved an unfair labor practice. According to NLRB, employer unfair labor practices generally have a detrimental effect on employee rights in selecting unions. Although the NLRB regional offices have been able to resolve informally over 90 percent of the unfair labor practice cases within about 40 days, the time it takes to process those cases must be scheduled for hearings before an administrative law judge has increased over recent years. The processing delays have been attributed to the NLRB inability to hire a sufficient number of judges to process its increasing caseload. Overall, the performance and commitment of the judges is good, and there are only a few low producers.

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