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What is the process to decertify a union?

When employees no longer want to be represented by a union or want to replace the union with a different one, they can vote to decertify the union. The process to decertify a union starts with filing an RD petition at the regional National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) office or electronically on the NLRB website. If 30 percent of the bargaining-unit employees sign the petition, the NLRB may hold a hearing and authorize an election to decertify the union. All bargaining-unit employees can sign petitions and vote in decertification elections regardless of union member status. Decertification occurs if a majority of the employees vote against the union. A tie vote will result in decertification because the union has received less than a majority of the votes cast.


The NLRB does not accept decertification petitions for one year following a union's initial certification by the NLRB. Also, when a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) has been reached, employees cannot ask for a decertification election during the first three years of the CBA except during a 30-day "window period" that is 60 to 90 days before the end of the contract. For health care institutions, the 30-day period is 90 to 120 days before the end of the contract. After the initial three years of a CBA, employees can file a decertification petition at any time. Airline and railway workers covered by the Railway Labor Act must follow different decertification procedures.

Employers need to be careful if employees inquire about the decertification of a union. An employer's initiating or even encouraging a petition for decertification can be considered interference and an unfair labor practice. Decertification is a matter between the employees and the union—any impetus for decertification must come from the workers rather than the employer. 



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