Glenn Spencer Glenn Spencer
Senior Vice President, Employment Policy Division, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


December 12, 2023


It’s no secret that a standard tactic of the unions’ during an organizing campaign is to hit employers with unfair labor practice charges (ULPs). Filing a ULP (which literally anyone can do) can mean that there has been a violation of the National Labor Relations Act. Or it can be nothing more than an attempt to publicly tarnish an employer’s reputation with the public.   

Far more often than not, it’s the latter. In fact, of the nearly 15,000 unfair labor practice charges filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB or Board) in 2023, nearly 5,000 were withdrawn, nearly 3,500 were dismissed, and another 6,000 were settled or adjusted in some way. A mere 203 – or 1.4% – resulted in a Board order. 

But these forbidding statistics don’t dissuade the unions. Thus, it was hardly surprising to see the United Auto Workers (UAW) file several ULPs against three non-unionized auto makers, as reported on December 11. The charges list numerous standard complaints that unions file in almost any organizing campaign. These include allegations that the automakers have been prohibiting workers from discussing unions during work time, preventing the distribution of union materials, asking workers about unions, and instructing workers not to wear union insignia. A less generic complaint is that one of the companies has been imposing “more onerous production standards,” and “using quality evaluations.” One might think that high production standards and quality control are what customers want, but the UAW’s campaign isn’t really about that. 

With only 1.4% of ULPs resulting in a Board order, it’s highly likely that the UAW’s recent complaints are more about headlines than helping workers. Of course, that won’t keep the UAW from filing more. It’s all part of the playbook. 

About the authors

Glenn Spencer

Glenn Spencer

Spencer oversees the Chamber’s work on immigration, retirement security, traditional labor relations, human trafficking, wage hour and worker safety issues, EEOC matters, and state labor and employment law.

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