Last week, the NLRB’s Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon released his annual Summary of Operations (pdf). The memorandum summarizes the activities of the General Counsel’s office, which is responsible for the investigation and prosecution of unfair labor practice charges and the handling of representation cases.  Representation cases are requests from a union, employee, or employer to conduct a secret ballot election to determine whether employees desire union representation.

As was the case last year, the AGC’s report seems to undermine the case for the NLRB’s continued focus on rulemaking that would speed up the election process. The median number of days it takes from filing of an election petition to conducting the secret ballot election was 38, the same as FY 2011, and "well below" the AGC’s target of 42 days. Moreover, there were only 169 contested representation cases, out of total representation case intake of 2,646 cases. Finally, the number of representation elections conducted within 56 days of the filing of the petition increased in FY 2012 to 93.9%, again above the AGC’s target of 90%.

Another striking statistic in the AGC’s report is that representation case intake declined again in FY 2012. Following a 12.2% decline in FY 2011, the total number of representation cases filed in FY 2012 declined another 6.5%. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is scheduled to issue its report on union membership on January 23, 2013.  With fewer representation cases at the NLRB, it would be surprising to see a significant increase in the number of union members in the private sector.

Other notable pieces of information in the report for the labor professional include:

  • Fewer unfair labor practice charges were filed in FY 2012, with case intake declining 3%;
  • If your employer was the subject of an unfair labor practice charge, there was a slightly better than 1 in 3 chance that the NLRB regional office found merit in the allegation, down slightly from FY 2011;
  • When the regional offices find merit in the charge, the party alleged to have violated the NLRA settled the charge in 91% of all cases in FY 2012; and
  • Recoveries by the NLRB on behalf of employees fell to approximately $44.3 million, down from over $60 million in FY 2011, and the number of employees for whom reinstatement was obtained likewise fell to 1,241 from 1,644.