Study Gauges Effect of new NLRB Rules on Election Outcomes

New rules established by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to govern procedures followed when unions seek to represent units of unrepresented employees have had no significant effect on the outcomes of representation elections.

Those are the findings of a new empirical analysis by Chicago-Kent College of Law Professor of Law Martin Malin and Jon Werner, professor, University of Wisconsin–Whitewater.

The new rules, established in April 2015, govern the process of petitioning the NLRB to conduct elections to determine if employees wish to be represented for purposes of collective bargaining. The new rules also govern subsequent investigations by the NLRB as well as elections themselves, when granted.

Malin and Werner’s study compares the two years immediately prior to the new rules taking effect to the two years following the effective date. The study found that while elections are taking place significantly faster and cases are being closed significantly faster, the rule changes have not significantly improved union win rates.

“Our findings contradict conventional wisdom, which holds that the longer the time between petition filing and election, the less likely the union will win the election,” said Malin. “Instead, the study found that the strongest predictor of election outcomes is the number of eligible voters.

The larger the voting unit, the more likely it is that the union will lose.”

Malin and Werner submitted their findings this week to the NLRB, which recently invited public comments on whether the rule changes should be retained. Their submission is available on the NLRB website.