NLRB: Who Needs Union Elections?

Last Friday, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) made it much easier for a union to organize. How much easier? Rolling off a log easier. The Cemex case sets a new standard for when and how employers must recognize a union. To wit:

Old way:

The union must file an election petition with the NLRB when 30% of the work force signs cards to form a bargaining unit; secret election; NLRB certifies union OR at least 50% of unit have signed cards for union and the employer may recognize union without an election.


  • A union can demand recognition based on a claim of majority support without filing election petition to NLRB.
  • The employer must grant recognition without an election or can file its own election petition (RM petition) for NLRB election.
  • If the employer does not act, the NLRB orders mandatory union recognition unless the employer later proves the union did not have majority support or claims the bargaining unit was inappropriate. How? In an unfair labor practice (ULP) with the NLRB.
  • If the employer petitions for an election, any unlawful conduct before the election will prompt the Board to issue a mandatory bargaining order.

Say What? Yes this is such a huge change, the NLRB tweeted (Xd?) a flow chart to explain it. Abridged version: all arrows lead to union recognition.


The new framework under Cemex, taken with the NLRB’s return to “quickie election” timelines, make is much easier for unions to organize.  While this is not a complete surprise with this Board, it will have a huge impact on union organizing unless or until the federal courts reverse the NLRB. We will keep you posted when the appeals start coming!

We can help. Give us a call or shoot us an email as soon as you hear about union organizing or are presented with signed cards. The new standards require quick action, in a new landscape. We stand ready to help with this or any other workplace law questions you have.