Practice Areas

Private Sector Union Organizing - Where's the Action?

November 2013

By: Richard H. Wessels, Esq.

At our Wessels Sherman full-day client seminar last spring, which was held at Wisconsin Dells, I did a presentation on "Labor Unions Today." In looking over my seminar material for that session, I found the following comments on union organizing:

Less organizing. Petitions tend to be in smaller units and away from traditional union base. More raids! We see union organizing shifting to nursing homes, service industries, not-for-profits (particularly health care oriented) and quasi-public sector (for example, school bus, janitors, security, food service, etc.) Even if a Union can win an election, it is difficult for them to get a first contract.

To test the accuracy of what I said last spring, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at what is happening six months later, particularly looking at the types of businesses that are being targeted for union elections.

As many of you know, through our "Eye on Labor" report, we monitor NLRB union election petitions across the country. It gives us and our clients a great feel of what is happening. I thought it would be enlightening to pick a meaningful time frame to see what is actually happening.

Accordingly, we looked at all NLRB organizing petitions throughout the USA from the date of the re-opening of the Federal government after the shut-down (October 17, 2013) to the end of the month. There were quite a few more petitions than in a normal two week period because lots were waiting to be filed the first few days after the re-opening. Here's what we found on the types of organizations being hit with union organizing:

Type of private sector organization

Number of union organizing petitions in this two-week time frame

Service Businesses.......................................................................................

27

Quasi-public sector (school bus, janitors, security, food service, etc.)..........

21

Construction industry...................................................................................

18

Warehousing and wholesale businesses.....................................................

16

Trucking and transportation.........................................................................

15

Hospitals and related healthcare.................................................................

13

Nursing Homes.............................................................................................

12

Manufacturing (non-food).............................................................................

10

Nof-for-profits (social services and non-acute healthcare)...........................

9

Retailing (including auto and equipment dealerships, etc.)..........................

9

Private education.........................................................................................

8

Non-school security.....................................................................................

5

Energy related businesses..........................................................................

4

Entertainment (casinos, film, etc.)...............................................................

3

Food manufacturing.....................................................................................

3

Media (TV, print media, etc.)........................................................................

3

Restaurants (including fast food).................................................................

1

Another interesting note - of the 215 union election petitions filed, 38 were petitions to oust a union.

By the way, if you want to be on our list to receive our weekly report " Eye on Labor," here is how you can do it: email me at riwessels@wesselssherman.com. It is free and I will take care of details.

Questions? Call Attorney Dick Wessels of Wessels Sherman's St. Charles, Illinois office: 630-377-1554 or email him at riwessels@wesselssherman.com.