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Employers ‘Step Up’ Anti-Unionization Efforts As Coronavirus Pandemic ‘Spurs Activism’ - Crisis Is Making Union Organizing Efforts ‘Difficult’ For Unions And Bosses ‘Seem Keen To Take Advantage’

Published Wednesday, June 24, 2020
by Michael Sainato/The Guardian
Employers ‘Step Up’ Anti-Unionization Efforts As Coronavirus Pandemic ‘Spurs Activism’ - Crisis Is Making Union Organizing Efforts ‘Difficult’ For Unions And Bosses ‘Seem Keen To Take Advantage’

During the Coronavirus Pandemic, employers have opposed Unionization Elections even as Workers’ activism over safety protections, job security and wages has increased in the face of an economic shutdown and health fears.

But the pandemic has created difficult conditions for Workers to organize elections, something many employers appear to have taken advantage of, despite the wave of Labor Activism that is sweeping the United States.

The number of resolved Union Election cases at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) 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Several of the delayed Union Elections then had petitions withdrawn or have yet to be scheduled.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 NLRB lifted the freeze on April 6th after 116 Union Elections were delayed and several other groups of Workers had petition hearings postponed.

For many Workers, the need to have a Union has never been greater.

Monica Luna, an Associate at a T-Mobile Retail Store in Del Rio, Texas for nearly three years, filed for a Union Election with the NLRB in April 2020 in response to working conditions during the pandemic and the lack of job security as T-Mobile is shuttering stores around the US.

“A week and a half after, our district manager ‘started making appearances and we started having Union Avoidance Meetings,’” said Luna.

Her retail store remained opened entirely throughout the pandemic, yet her pay of $13 an hour remained the same.

“I ‘think it’s funny (that) all of a sudden we’re trying to form a Union, and the district manager showed up and stayed for the week, was buying us food, giving his opinion regarding the Union, trying to give us facts, saying if we didn’t pay dues we could get fired,” she said.

In the end, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) lost the election.

Organizer Tim Dubnau put the defeat down to the Anti-Union meetings and frequent intervention from the district manager, while Organizers were unable to meet with Workers due to concerns of spreading the virus.

Activists and Labor Unions and several elected officials in Congress have been pushing for the NLRB to develop procedures to hold Union Elections electronically, citing employer opposition to mail-in ballot elections and the urgency of safety protections for Workers who risk exposure to the Coronavirus.

As Union Elections have resumed during the pandemic, several employers have continued to oppose Unionization efforts through captive audience meetings and pushes to postpone or delay elections.

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