Demand that NLRB restore the right to vote

National Labor Relations Board

Union organizations from across Washington state and beyond have called out the Trump-appointed National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for failing to resume union recognition elections in a timely fashion. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it's more important than ever for workers to be able to join together and negotiate for safe workplaces and fair compensation, but the federal agency that's supposed to protect their rights to have these elections has been dragging its feet and even creating new obstacles to unionization.

Individuals are urged to sign this open letter -- already signed by 60 union locals and councils (see list) -- demanding "that the NLRB immediately restore workers' democratic right to vote for union recognition, and to stop erecting new barriers that impede and discourage the unionization process."

To: National Labor Relations Board
From: [Your Name]


After intense pressure by unions and workers around the nation in late March, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced it would re-open union recognition elections beginning on April 6 that they had canceled in March. This was welcome news for workers across the nation, including those at Lourdes Medical Center in Pasco, Wash., who had planned to vote for their union on April 2, but had been forced to put that vote on hold after the original NLRB decision.

So it was with great frustration that these workers and others watched April 6 come and go with no real movement by the NLRB. Despite making various excuses, the fact remains that the NLRB has failed to re-open elections as they had promised.

These workers are stuck in a precarious limbo. Most employers in the U.S. aggressively oppose unionization. They do so by forcing employees to attend meetings where they intimidate and spread misinformation about unions. They even fire employees who are leaders to set an example to others that this will not be tolerated. That's why, after a group of workers announces their intent to join together in a union, there is a need for a speedy vote. Much like in our judicial system, a delay in a fair process to join a union is a denial of a fair process to join a union.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, workers around the nation are demonstrating that they are essential to our society’s well-being. Hard-working people are putting in long hours, risking illness to serve others' needs, and making many other sacrifices. These are people who will never get rich at their jobs – and never expected to.  But they do expect to get respect.  The pandemic has exposed the inequities in our society. People of color and people with lower incomes appear more likely to become ill from the virus, more likely to suffer most severely from it, and more likely to die.

At the same, people with a union at work have proven to be most effective at driving for changes in the workplace that protect themselves and the customers, patients and public they serve. Unionized workers have often led the way for increased safety protections, better paid sick days, implementing social distancing, and other changes to reduce the chance for contraction of the virus. And if it is contracted, unions support better systems so workers can afford to stay home and get well instead of coming to work sick just to pay the bills.

The bottom line: unionized workplaces and unionized workers are a force for safety and protections that serve everyone. That's why last month's NLRB decision to suspend all union elections was such an affront to workers, to public safety, and to the basic freedom that makes America strong.

Now, one week after they promised to restore American workers' basic rights, it still hasn't happened -- and we are still waiting.

We, the undersigned, demand that the NLRB immediately restore workers' democratic right to vote for union recognition, and to stop erecting new barriers that impede and discourage the unionization process.