Union Decertification: Process & Policies

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  • 0:00 Union Decertification
  • 0:43 Reasons for Decertification
  • 1:39 Process
  • 3:09 Employee Rights
  • 3:57 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Ian Lord

Ian is a real estate investor, MBA, former health professions educator, and Air Force veteran.

In this lesson, we will look at the process of how a union decertification election works. We will also discuss some of the reasons why an election may occur, along with the rights of employees throughout the process.

Union Decertification

Tom and other employees of Happy Farm Groceries feel that their labor union has outlived its usefulness and isn't fulfilling any worthwhile services on their behalf. Tom feels that there is a good relationship with management and that the company no longer needs a union to act as a representative for the employees. The National Labor Relations Board permits employees to vote in an organized process to decertify, or remove the union from its role as the exclusive employee representation. Let's review with Tom some reasons why employees would want to decertify the union, how the process of union decertification works, and the rights of employees through the process

Reasons for Decertification

Fortunately for Tom and his like-minded coworkers, a decertification election can be called for any reason. Perhaps the employees feel that the union doesn't adequately negotiate on their behalf, or that the dues are out of proportion when compared to actual services. Maybe the workforce doesn't agree with the politics of the labor union. It ultimately doesn't matter why employees want the union gone. If enough employees do not want union representation anymore, a decertification election can take place.

Another potential reason to push for decertification is a different union attempting to start a raid election. Employees may still want union representation, but have lost faith in the current union. Perhaps another union is simply looking to grow its own membership numbers at the current union's expense. In this circumstance, a rival union attempts to get the employees to vote to decertify the existing union so that it can become the sole representative.


Before anything can be done, Tom needs to make sure that the union has been in place long enough to qualify for a decertification election. During the first three years of union representation a decertification petition can only be filed during a designated 30-day window period that occurs some time between 90 days prior and up to 60 days following the contract expiration. An exception exists for healthcare settings; the 30-day window in those cases can happen from 120 days prior until 90 days after contract expiration. Once the union contract has been in place for three years, a decertification petition may be filed at any time.

Tom can write a petition that includes a clear statement that the signing employees wish to remove the union as their sole representative and have the National Labor Relations Board conduct an election for decertification. If 30% of the union members sign, the NLRB will conduct a secret ballot election. If 50% or more of the employees vote for decertification, the NLRB will remove the union from its sole representative role with that company. Employees are now free to negotiate individually and directly with the company.

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