The staff of the normally-union friendly American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) Southern California offices have aligned themselves with Communications Workers of America and filed a petition with the NLRB. What remains unclear is why ACLU management won’t voluntarily recognize the union without an election.
Last Thursday, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board to hold a secret-ballot election among the employees of the American Civil Liberties Union at three of its Southern California locations.
While the ACLU is often considered a liberal organization today and is also very pro-union, the fact that the CWA filed a petition to hold an election—rather than being voluntarily recognized by ACLU management—is somewhat odd.
Typically*, the CWA does not move forward with an election petition until it has 70% (or more) of the workers’ signatures on union authorization cards indicating their support for unionization.
Once the union has majority support, it is common for the CWA (as well as most unions), to request that the employer voluntarily recognize the union without having to go through the expense of an election campaign.
Employers, however, have the legal right to decline the request for voluntary recognition.
When an employer does decline to voluntarily recognize a union, the union will then generally file its petition to have a secret-ballot election held by the National Labor Relations Board.
With the CWA’s filing a NLRB petition for an election amongst ACLU staff, it is unknown whether the CWA asked the ACLU to voluntarily recognize the union without an election prior to its filing.
One would think that, given the ACLU’s strongly-stated beliefs in the right of workers to unionize and collectively bargain through unions, ACLU management would have no problem voluntarily recognizing the union without an election.
As efforts to reach ACLU management in Los Angeles were unsuccessful, it is also unknown whether management is opposing unionization.
Disclaimer: The writer of this post is a former agent and Mobilization Coordinator for the CWA, and has been involved in hundreds of union election campaigns.