You can ‘Test Drive’ the IBT & Decertify Later

Union organizers like to minimize the risk in the minds of voters during an organizing campaign. One of the ways they do this is by offering “the test drive.” They will tell employees to vote them in, try them out and if they don’t get a contract they like they can just vote the union out in a year. The best organizers actually dial this one up a notch and tell employees that if they don’t bargain a contract that the employees approve that the union will just walk away without a vote.

The facts? You can’t just test drive a union. As a legal matter, once a union is voted in it is in for as long as it wants unless employees take the affirmative step of decertifying the union. While the union does have the power to walk away this rarely happens. In fact, I’ve never seen it happen without a petition being filed.

Getting one of these petitions filed is not the easiest things in the world. First, the cards are stacked against them. If a contract is entered you are barred from filing one for about 3 years. Even then, there is only a 30 day period where you can file and explaining it would take the rest of this email. It is not an easy process.

Then there are the road blocks the union will throw into the way of employees who try to get rid of them. Let’s put it this way: you’re not exactly welcome down at the union hall if you start passing around a decertification petition. Unions will do whatever they can to stop one from getting traction, including intimidation and harassment of the people who support the effort. It takes a lot of guts to do it. To many it is just not worth the hassle.

So can you “test drive” a union? I suppose technically you can. Realistically, however, once a union is in it is in. The ball is completely in the union’s court and the rules are stacked against you. You should assume when you vote that if the union gets in it is in for good.

A great way to overcome this lie during a campaign is to show employees a copy of the union’s constitution and bylaws – especially the section that talks about trials and fines. Here there is usually language about encouraging secession or conduct unbecoming a member – this is a good way to illustrate the point.