Dropping the Ax: Illegal Firings During Union Election Campaigns

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January 2007, John Schmitt and Ben Zipperer

This report finds a steep rise in illegal firings of pro-union workers in the 2000s relative to the last half of the 1990s. It uses published data from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to update an index of the probability that a pro-union worker will be fired in the course of a union election campaign.

By 2005, pro-union workers involved in union election campaigns faced about a 1.8 percent chance of being illegally fired during the course of the campaign. If we assume that employers target union organizers and activists, and that union organizers and activists make up about 10 percent of pro-union workers, our estimates suggest that almost one-in-five union organizers or activists can expect to be fired as a result of their activities in a union election campaign.

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This report was updated in March, 2009.