One of the best-kept secrets involving the interpretation and enforcement of the National Labor Relations Act ("NLRA") is the process known as "decertification." The term decertification, in its broadest sense, is the process by which a collective bargaining agent's legal right to continue to represent a group of employees in a given bargaining unit is brought to an end. This is the sense in which the term will be used in this book. The National Labor Relations Board ("NLRB") publishes numerous booklets, pamphlets, fliers, and other information explaining in detail the procedure employees may use to obtain union representation and the protections afforded employees by the NLRA in seeking to unionize. However, the NLRB provides very little information on how those very same employees can legally terminate a union's right to continue to represent them for purposes of collective bargaining. In short, the NLRA establishes a two-way street. Employees who want to be represented by a labor organization have procedures available to accomplish their objectives. Likewise, those employees who no longer desire such representation have procedures available to accomplish their goal. However, this dual purpose is not apparent due to the dearth of information published by the NLRB for those seeking to oust their union representative. This handbook focuses on the above-described "information gap." It explores how, when, by what means, and under what conditions decertification can take place. Additionally, it examines various other means by which the continued viability of an existing bargaining relationship can be challenged and possibly discontinued. Anyone interested in examining the other side of the two-way street mentioned above - i.e., how to challenge and potentially terminate an existing collective bargaining relationship - will benefit from this handbook. This handbook should appeal to a wide audience. Obviously, many employers wishing to free themselves from restrictions jeopardizing their competitiveness will be interested in this general subject and, in particular, as to how far they can go in assisting their employees in challenging their union representative's right to continue to speak for them. Also, those within an employer's organization such as personnel directors, human resource managers, and others who are charged with decision-making in the personnel policy area should find this information of interest. Attorneys working for both management and unions, should find this handbook to be valuable as an orientation to this highly specialized and seldom discussed area of federal labor law. Finally, employees seeking information as to how they may regain their right to speak for themselves should find this publication beneficial and instructive. In particular, Appendix 1 should answer many of the questions employees may have regarding their rights to oust their current bargaining representatives. One cautionary note to readers - this handbook is not intended to be, and does not purport to be, a substitute for sound, competent legal advice in specific situations. Each union relationship is unique and requires its own individual analysis before the legal avenues available for terminating the bargaining relationship can be properly explored. Moreover, the law in this area is subject to rapid changes. The NLRB is constantly issuing new decisions and establishing new guidelines. The federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, review, revise, and frequently overturn these rulings. With this caveat in mind, however, this publication does provide an overview of the basic legal framework whereby employees and employers may legally challenge the continued viability of a particular union relationship, and in the process, examines the pitfalls (both legal and practical) confronting those desiring to mount such a challenge.
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