By: Richard H. Wessels, Esq.
Over the years, Wessels Sherman has probably filed more RM petitions with the NLRB around the Midwest than anyone. It is an effective way to oust a union. But, for some reason it is seldom used. Here is the background. An RM petition is NRLB shorthand for a representation petition by management. In other words, the company files a petition to determine whether a union will continue to represent the employees. It is pretty much the same thing as a decertification petition.
With a decertification petition, an employee (management cannot instigate it) must obtain an indication that at least 30% of the individuals in a bargaining unit no longer want the union. Usually this is in the form of a piece of paper signed by employees indicating they no longer want the union to represent them. There are tight timeframes for the decertification petition. It can be filed only in the 90-60 day timeframe before labor contract expiration, or after expiration if no renewal contract has been negotiated. The problem, of course, is that rank and file employees are unlikely to go through all of the procedural red tape to get the NLRB process moving toward an election.
An RM petition is just a slight twist on this. If the disaffected employee can get a majority of the unit (rather than just 30%) to sign the paper that they don’t want the union any more, he can give it to management and management can take it from there. In other words, the company will be presented with clear evidence that the union no longer represents a majority and management can then file the petition rather than have the employee go through all of the red tape.
There are some other twists and turns here and the possibility of merely withdrawing recognition under certain circumstance, but the usual result is the RM petition. Then, what follows is the normal secret ballot election with the issue being decided by a majority of those who vote. This is something that management should keep in mind if they are hearing rumblings that bargaining unit employees no longer want to have union representation. For obvious reasons, this is very effective.
Another tip – a good way to facilitate this process if an employee asks questions about ousting the union is to direct the disaffected employee to instructions on the website of the National Right to Work Committee. That website is http://nrtwc.org/
Dick Wessels who is Founder and Senior Shareholder of Wessels Sherman Joerg Liszka Laverty Seneczko P.C. He is a nationally recognized labor attorney and has been honored as an Illinois Super Lawyer. Dick handles a wide variety of labor and employment law cases. His primary focus is dealing with labor unions, either on behalf of union-free companies or where unions already have representation rights. Dick has handled cases involving nearly all international unions for companies throughout the United States.