Only 6 Percent of Unionized Workers Voted for Labor Unions

By Higgins, Sean | Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The, September 1, 2016 | Go to article overview

Only 6 Percent of Unionized Workers Voted for Labor Unions


Higgins, Sean, Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The


Only 6 percent of all workers in the private sector who are represented by unions voted for it, according to a new study by the conservative Heritage Foundation.

In many cases, the workers took jobs at businesses that were already unionized, sometimes decades prior to their employment. Because federal labor law favors maintaining the status quo once a union is recognized, most of the workers never had a chance to weigh in -- and are unlikely to ever get one.

"Most current U.S. union members are represented by unions they had no say in electing. The [National Labor Relations Act] election process, while nominally democratic, does not measure the preferences of current American workers," said James Sherk, Heritage's labor policy analyst.

The think tank analyzed the number of workers who voted for union representation in workplace organizing elections between 1973 and 2015, using data published by the National Labor Relations Board, the main federal labor law enforcement agency. The study found that while private-sector unions represent 8 million workers, only 478,000, or about 6 percent, of those workers ever checked "yes" to having a labor representative in an election monitored by the National Labor Relations Board.

The 6 percent figure doesn't necessarily indicate how many of those workers are pro-union or anti-union. It is possible that many of those who never voted would have supported a union given the chance. The study includes cases in which companies voluntarily recognized unions without requesting a federally monitored vote, which could indicate that the employer assumed workers would have wanted one. The study also includes cases in which workers did have a chance to vote in workplace organizing elections but for whatever reason did not. Those workers may have accidentally missed the vote or may not have been aware of it or simply had no interest in voting.

In many cases, unions benefit substantially from low-turnout elections since they are required to win a majority of votes cast, not a majority of all workers. "If unions needed majority support in the workplace . …

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