New data from the National Labor Relations Board shows that union election filings have increased in recent weeks, providing concrete evidence of a growing labor movement.
Between October 2021 to March 2022 the number of union filings increased by 57%, from 748 to 1,714 in the same period last years. The labor board reports that unfair labor practice charges have increased by 14 percent from 7,255 to 8,254.
This data confirms what labor organizations have already noticed: there has not been a marked riseOver the past year, there has been a lot of progress in workplace organization. Previous research Found that workers logged over 3.2 million strike days last year, and that there was an increase in strike activity in October, which labor advocates deemed “Striketober” –- but last year was the first year for which researchers compiled that data, so there was no baseline to compare it to.
Roughly 180Most of the filings in the first half of 2022 fiscal year were made by Starbucks workers. unionizing graduate studentsSchools across the country have also experienced an increase in student numbers over the past 12 months.
The NLRB says that the increase in the agency’s workload is evidence that the agency is in dire need of more funding. Both major political parties have neglected to raise the agency’s budget for nearly a decade, meaning that the agency has effectively lost about 25 percent of its funding over the past 10 years when adjusted for inflation.
Agency has suffered from the lack of funding. The NLRB’s overall staffing has decreased by 39 percent since 2002, while its field staffing has been cut in half. General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo stated that this has resulted in a reduction of 39 percent in overall staffing since 2002. However, its field staffing has been cut in half. it increasingly difficult for the agency to operate — thus also making it hard for the labor board to arbitrate charges against employers and process election filings.
Staffing has been in decline due to underfunding. This is disproportionately affecting the Field Offices which are responsible for handling unfair labor practice charges and elections. The overall NLRB staffing level has dropped by 39% since FY02, while the field staffing has decreased by 50%. pic.twitter.com/1gq5a0yEZI
— NLRB General Counsel (@NLRBGC) April 6, 2022
“Right now, there is a surge in labor activity nationwide, with workers organizing and filing petitions for more union elections than they have in the last ten years,” Abruzzo said in a statement. “This has caused a significant increase in the NLRB’s caseload, and the Agency urgently needs more staff and resources to effectively comply with our Congressional mandate.”
“While our dedicated board agents continue to process petitions and conduct elections, investigate and prosecute statutory violations, and obtain remedies for victims of unfair labor practices, the NLRB needs a significant increase of funds to fully effectuate the mission of the Agency,” Abruzzo continued.
Staff at agencies blame both major parties and the funding reduction. Democrats are currently in charge of Congress, meaning that they have the power to appropriate more funds to the labor board — but they haven’t made moves to do so.
“They have full control; there’s no excuse. I don’t think appeasement [of Republicans] has worked,” New York NLRB field attorney and staff union president Michael Bilik told HuffPost in March. “If this was a priority then they would do something about it, that’s the bottom line. Republicans are more resolved to destroy this place than Democrats are to save it.”
President Joe Biden requested $319.4million in funding for the labor board in fiscal year 2023. This is a 16 percent increase on the $274.2million that the agency has received over the past nine years. The increase will help ease some strain for the agency, but “will not fully address staffing needs,” the agency said in a press release.
Economic Policy Institute, Research shows that the agency is responsible for far more workersDespite receiving less funding, the current situation is better than it was in previous years. The number of full-time NLRB workers in the private sector has increased from roughly 75,000 workers per worker to over 112,000 workers as of 2019.