Majority Authorizations and Union Organizing in the Public Sector: A Four-State Perspective

Source: Robert Bruno, Adrienne E. Eaton, Mohammad Abbas Ali, Sally Alvarez, Legna J. Cabrera, Lynn Feekin, Keith Appleby, Jennifer Schneidman, A Joint Research Project of the: University of Illinois School of Labor and Employment Relations, Department of Labor Studies and Employment Relations – Rutgers University, Extension Division, School of Industrial and Labor Relations – Cornell University, University of Oregon Labor Education and Research Center, May 14, 2009

New York, New Jersey, Illinois, and Oregon have provided a mechanism for nearly 35,000 public sectors workers to express their interest in becoming union members. The process has worked without systematic or episodic employer or union abuse. While not identical, the states’ majority sign-up provisions are similar to the proposed federal Employee Free Choice Act. As the debate over the national legislation continues, it is important for policymakers to have access to hard data detailing the impact of a majority sign-up provision. In the interest of constructing sound public policy, the states can make a valuable contribution to the pursuit of an informed judgment about labor law reform.

As is true in so many other policy areas, on the subject of union representation, the states are incubators for new ideas and practices. New York, New Jersey, Illinois, and Oregon have demonstrated that a majority-authorization petition can genuinely determine the will of the employees to be unionized and provides a functional, largely non-adversarial and eventless process for insuring a fair work environment for everyone.

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