Union Election Petitions, Unfair Labor Practice Charges Continue to Rise

By Greg Hoff posted 07-22-2022 00:00


The number of union representation petitions filed in 2022 has already surpassed the total number of petitions filed in all of 2021, according to newly-released data from the National Labor Relations Board. Unfair labor practice charges have also increased during this same period, amidst perhaps the most significant period of labor unrest in the country in recent memory. 

Representation petitions skyrocket: During the first nine months of FY2022, union representation petitions filed with the Board have increased nearly 60%, for a total of nearly 2,000 petitions through June 30. By May 25, 2022, the number of petitions filed had already exceeded the total number of petitions filed in all of FY2021. Unfair labor practices also increased, although by a much smaller rate—16%. 

Contextualizing the data: A large chunk of these petitions are from smaller groups of employees working in retail storefronts, in particular at Starbucks locations, which make up a significant majority of such petitions. Thus, to the extent that such increases are reflective of a surge in unionization activity across the country, so far this rise is largely limited to smaller retail operations such as individual Starbucks locations. Given the powerful union drive occurring at Starbucks locations nationwide, it is unsurprising that Starbucks petitions account for a disproportionate chunk of the overall number of petitions filed. 

Outlook: Given the Biden administration’s full backing, employers can expect the rise in union activity and NLRB enforcement to continue. In particular, more highly educated workers have been responsible for the new surge in unionization interest, along with smaller retail operations as detailed above. HR Policy members can stay up to date on developing federal labor law issues with the latest edition of the Association’s quarterly NLRB Update report.