According to those on the ground, the UAW never had the majority support it claimed leading up to the Nissan vote.
In early August, the United Auto Workers made national news when the workers at Nissan’s Canton, Mississippi plant voted overwhelmingly to reject the union.
Although UAW leaders has repeatedly tried the blame Nissan for the union’s loss, the fact is, the union was unlikely to win the vote.
The UAW’s loss was not due to management “intimidation,” as the UAW’s Gary Casteel claimed earlier this week in an op-ed.
Rather, the UAW’s failure was due to its organizing team’s own ineptness.
The UAW did not have majority support when the union filed for the election.
In order to win an NLRB election, as most most in the union industry know that a union needs to obtain fifty percent (50%) plus one (1) vote of the workers who actually vote.
In fact, most experienced union organizers will not file a petition to hold an election until they have an overwhelming amount of employees having signed union authorization cards.
The reason most experienced union organizers want a majority before it files a petition for an election is that organizers know there will be attrition—a decline in union support—as an election draws nearer.
However, based on workers’ own accounts of the UAW’s Mississippi defeat, it appears the UAW never had a majority support before it filed for the election at Nissan, according to the pro-union Labor Notes.
Committee members say they never had an accurate count of who was a Nissan employee and who wasn’t until the company gave the union a required list a few weeks before the vote.
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According to multiple organizing committee members and campaign volunteers, on the day of the election there were still more than 600 workers who had never been assessed by the union.
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“We filed with not even half [the workers signing union cards],” said Hathorn, who was on the committee for two years. “I would have waited until we had 65 percent of the cards signed up. I think we filed because this campaign had just been going on for so long.” [Emphasis added.]
In other words, the union did not have the majority of union authorization cards before it filed for the election in late July.
Despite the fact that a vast majority of companies communicate with their employees during union organizing campaigns, unions still win a large majority of the NLRB elections.
In July, for example, unions won seventy-five percent of the elections they initiated, according to the National Labor Relations Board, up slightly from the seventy-three percent won in June.
While the UAW can continue trying to blame Nissan for its election loss, the reality is, without a majority of Nissan’s employees supporting the union going in, the UAW was destined to lose the election.