NLRB Statistics Show Unexpected Numbers

Written by Robert G. Brody and Abby M. Warren on June 30, 2013

The National Labor Relations Board (“Board”) releases statistics regarding its caseload and operations in a report called a “Performance and Accountability Report” (“Report”) and other memoranda.  In 2012, the information showed a decrease in overall case numbers, both unfair labor practice charges and representation cases.  This is not surprising.  The Board has been attacking non-union companies in recent year in part due to this lack of its traditional business.

What is surprising about the numbers?  The information shows a 13 percent increase in initial representation cases, with 2012 bringing 1,611 initial representation elections up from 1,423 in 2011.  Union membership has been decreasing for decades.  According to the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statics report in January of this year, union membership dropped from 11.8 percent in 2011 to 11.3 percent in 2012 (public and private sector).  The private sector rate is even drearier, at only 6.6 percent.  The Board’s statistics show unions are actively trying to turn these numbers around by targeting new industries and new markets.

Other numbers of interest for 2012 are:

  1. The Board received  a total of 21,629 unfair labor practice charges (down 2.5% since 2011’s 22,188 charges) and 2,646 representation petitions (down 6.5% from 2011’s 2,834 which was down 6% from the year before);
  2. Overall the number of cases from 2011 to 2012 decreased by 2.8%;
  3. Of the 21,629 unfair labor practice charges, the Regions only issued complaint in 1,314 cases;
  4. The Board resolved 72.7% of all unfair labor practices charges within 120 days of the filing of the charge by withdrawal, dismissal or by closing upon compliance with a settlement, Board order, or court judgment;
  5. The Board’s Field Offices received 82,669 public inquiries regarding workplace issues (down 1% since 2011’s 83,826 inquiries);
  6. The Board’s toll-free number received 37,723 inquiries (up 10% since 2011’s 34,331 inquiries);
  7. Initial elections for  union representation were performed in a median of 38 days from the filing of the petition (within the Board’s mandate  of 42 days);
  8. A total of $44,316,059 was paid by employers in backpay and other damages and 1,241 employees were offered reinstatement;
  9. There was a 91% settlement rate in the Regional Offices for meritorious unfair labor practice charges; and
  10. The Board noted that settling cases is a high priority for performance, efficiency and especially cost savings, since the Report states that every 1% drop in the Board’s settlement rate costs the agency $2 million.

Overall, the Board is hitting its goals in timely processing cases and has become a resource for the public. Despite these successes, the Board is unlikely to give up on its more drastic measures (and attempted measures), such as the poster requirement (vacated by the D.C. Circuit) and the quickie election rule (oral argument delayed by the D.C. Circuit), but only time will tell for sure.

Brody and Associates regularly advises its clients on union-related matters and provides union-free training.  If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at or 203.965.0560.

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Related Topics: Labor Management Issues, Legal Updates, NLRB

About the Authors

Robert G. Brody is the founding member of Brody and Associates, LLC. He has been quoted and published in national publications and appears as a guest T.V. commentator on contemporary Labor and Employment issues. Learn More

Abby M. Warren is an Associate with Brody and Associates, LLC. She works on both Labor and Employment Law matters. Abby worked at the New Haven Superior Court. Learn More