According to a report just issued by Labor Relations Institute (LRI), unions won 71% of the representation elections conducted by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in 2017. This is consistent with union success rates in recent years and has resulted in over 54,000 newly organized union members last year. Meanwhile, unions lost approximately 4,000 members through decertification elections, where union members voted to oust union representatives. The appearance of a net gain of 50,000 new union members is offset by the fact that unions are filing far fewer petitions for elections these days.
The higher win rate for unions can be attributed in part to the Board's "micro-unit" decision (allowing unions to organize small groups of employees) and its so-called "ambush election" rule. Implemented in April 14, 2015, the rule decreased the amount of time between a union's filing of an "RC", or representation petition, and the election date set by the NLRB. The average time between a union's petition to the NLRB to hold a representation election, and the election itself, has shrunk to just 23 days! Elections on such short notice effectively prevents employers from campaigning against unionization and prevents employees from making an informed decision; like spotting the union a 25 yard head start in a 50 yard race.
Changes to the NLRB under the Trump Administration hold the promise of reeling back pro-union policies and procedures implemented under the Obama Administration. However, until then employers wishing to remain union free are well advised to have a prepared plan of action in place before any union comes around trying to organize employees. Union success rate may be 70% or more, on average, but this can be significantly lowered for your organization by taking appropriate preventative measures.