Labor organizations across Washington State are expressing outrage in reaction to the National Labor Relations Board (Board) postponing of all union recognition elections until at least April 2nd. They are also calling on the Board to revoke the decision, reschedule all such elections, and make all elections become all mail-in ballot only.
Recently, the National Labor Relations Board (Board) postponed all union recognition (or RC) elections until at least April 2nd. We strongly oppose this unilateral action undermining workplace democracy, and we call for immediate revocation of this action and immediate rescheduling of all RC elections, by mail ballot, as soon as they can be scheduled. Additionally, we call for the expediting of mandatory mail ballot procedures for all RC elections going forward.
“The Board’s decision shows that was meant to be a balancing force weighing the interests of workers and employers is a broken system. The Board unilaterally revoked workers’ rights to organize by this one action,” said Faye Guenther, President of UFCW 21. “Any insistence that mail balloting require approval from employers amounts to giving a veto card to all employers to terminate any unionizing effort at any time.”
Further harm to workers right to organize result from the decision because the standard that the Board has typically used (so-called “laboratory conditions”) in union elections will be erased because without the prospect of a union election workers will be reluctant to begin any new organizing drive. What would be the point of beginning to organize if you knew the employer could simply deny the right to a vote? Without the right to vote being protected and expected, there is no democracy.

“Now is the time for increased worker involvement in their workplace health and safety, not a muzzling of workers,” said Larry Brown, President of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO. “Democracy in the workplace where workers can be assured of a safe work environment, the ability to stay home from work when sick, and their unfettered right to advocate for themselves and for the public they serve, is paramount not just for their well-being, but for the well-being of everyone in America.”

Beyond the issue of workers’ intertwined rights to self-determination and to advocate for their own health and safety, Washington’s unions say this attack creates an ongoing threat to the health and safety of the general public. Health care workers who are denied collective bargaining rights are less effective advocates for their patients than those who can be confident that if they speak up for patient safety their union will stand with them.

Employers, pressured by intense market conditions, are endangering workers and the general public. Worker self-organization is one of the most powerful public health tools available, and it can produce immediate on-the-ground public health improvements. By example, unionized workers have already won agreements with employers that modify retail store conditions and health care facility standards that directly and immediately benefit the general public and the workers, resulting in immediate public health improvements.

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