Union Organizers Frustrated With Inability To Unionize Workers During COVID Crisis

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Despite having a seemingly ripe environment to unionize workers, organizing is down and union organizers are expressing frustration at not being able to meet with workers.

As the Coronavirus pandemic disrupted the global economy this spring and summer, unions have found it harder—not easier, as some have predicted—to unionize workers, according an article last month in the left-leaning Guardian.

Following an election defeat at a a T-Mobile Retail Store in Del Rio, Texas, for example, Communications Workers of America (CWA) organizer Tim Dubnau blamed the defeat, in part, to organizers’ inability to meet with employees due to fear of spreading the COVID-19 virus.

According to the Guardian, the number of resolved union election cases at the National Labor Relations Board dropped from 84 in March 2020 to 13 in April 2020 as the pandemic raged.

Several of the delayed union elections then had petitions withdrawn or have yet to be scheduled. During the pandemic, union election petitions have declined significantly. According to the NLRB, union representation case intake in April 2020 decreased by 67.6% compared with April 2019.

The NLRB initially froze all union elections, while permitting mail-in ballot elections if employers and workers agreed to proceed. The board lifted the freeze on 6 April, after 116 union elections were delayed, and several other groups of workers had petition hearings postponed. [Emphasis added.]

Despite the NLRB’s lifting of the election freeze, union organizers are likely still finding meeting with employees difficult.

Since the Guardian’s article was published in late June, businesses throughout the United States had begun to reopen and Americans began to return to work, only to have the coronavirus spike in numerous states, causing governors in many of those states to roll back reopenings.

While it is too early to say for certain, the ongoing coronavirus spikes and continuing unemployment will likely continue to hamper union organizers from meeting with employees.

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