The National Labor Relations Act protects the right of employees to choose or reject union representation. To protect this right, the NLRB conducts secret-ballot elections among employees to determine whether they wish to be represented by a union. If a union receives a majority of the votes cast in an election, it is certified as the employees' bargaining representative and must be recognized by the employer as the exclusive bargaining agent for the employees in the relevant workgroup. Failure to bargain with the union at this point is an unfair labor practice.

My Employer has a Union and I Want to Remove it or Replace it with a Different Union

When a union is already in place, you may file a petition to remove it or to replace it with a different union. To start this process, you must file an election petition with your local NLRB office. Along with the petition, you will need to show that at least 30 percent of the employees support your election petition, which is usually done with authorization cards or a petition signed by your co-workers. However, there are restrictions on when you are able to file such petitions:

  • You cannot file a petition in the first year after a union is certified by the NLRB;
  • If the union and the employer have a collective-bargaining agreement, you may only file a petition during a 30-day window period that occurs shortly before the collective-bargaining agreement expires. For more information about this window period, you should contact your local NLRB office; and
  • If the union and the employer have a collective-bargaining agreement that has been in place for more than three years, you may file a petition at any time.

An NLRB agent will then make sure that an election is appropriate and take steps to set the time, date and place of a secret-ballot election. Typically, elections are held at the earliest possible time and may be in-person, by mail or a combination of the two.

If you are seeking to remove a union from your workplace, the ballot will ask you and your co-workers to choose between the union and no union. If the existing union does not receive a majority of the votes cast in the election, it will be decertified.

If you are seeking to replace an existing union with a different union, the ballot will ask you and your co-workers to choose between the existing union, the new union and no union. If none of these three options receives a majority vote, a runoff will be conducted between the top two.

Questions? We’re here to help.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is a Federal agency that protects your right to join together with other employees to improve your wages and working conditions, with or without the help of a union. For assistance, please call:

  • 1-844-762-NLRB (1-844-762-6572)

Spanish assistance is available.

Learn about filing a complaint

We’ll help you decide what to do next and determine whether filing a charge or petition is the best course of action. You must file within six months of the alleged violation to take further legal action, so it is best to begin the process early.

Please note that it is illegal for your employer to fire, demote, harass, or otherwise retaliate against you for reporting an issue to the NLRB.

File with NLRB