In Fiscal Year 2022 (October 1, 2021-September 30, 2022), 2,510 union representation petitions were filed with NLRB’s 48 Field Offices—a 53% increase from the 1,638 petitions field in FY2021. This is the highest number of union representation petitions filed since FY2016.
Unfair labor practice (ULP) charges filed with NLRB Field Offices also increased 19%, from 15,082 charges in FY2021 to 17,988 charges in FY2022.
Accounting for both ULP and representation petitions, total case intake at the Field Offices increased 23%—from 16,720 cases in FY2021 to 20,498 cases in FY2022. This increase of 3,778 cases is the largest single-year increase since FY1976 and the largest percentage increase since FY1959.
“Our field staff has done a tremendous job handling a historic surge in union election petitions and unfair labor practice charges, but this situation is unsustainable,” said NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo. “We need Congress to provide increased funding so we can hire the staff we need and provide necessary resources to conduct hearings and elections, investigate charges, settle and litigate meritorious cases, and obtain full and prompt remedies for workers whose rights are violated.”
At the same time, the number of cases coming before Members of the National Labor Relations Board has also increased. The Board had an intake of 308 representation and unfair labor practice cases in FY2022, up from 272 in FY2021—an increase of 13%.
The Board continued the significant progress it has made in recent years in processing cases more efficiently—median processing time between the assignment of a Board case and issuance of a decision decreased over 14%, from 91 days in FY2021 to 78 days in FY2022. The Board’s prioritization of election-related matters was particularly successful—median processing time for a request for review of a regional decision in a representation case decreased 42% from 74 days in FY2021 to 43 days in FY2022. Although the Board processed cases more quickly, the increase in case intake left 145 cases pending before the Board at the end of FY2022—a 28% increase from the 113 cases pending at the end of FY2021.
“I sincerely thank the Board’s career staff for their phenomenal work over the past year to speed up the processing of Board cases,” said NLRB Chairman Lauren McFerran. “Workers, employers, and our economy all benefit when the Board can resolve labor disputes in a timely manner. But we need additional resources from Congress to sustain this progress. Given the spike in case intake we are seeing in the field, we can expect even more cases to come before the Board in FY2023.”
The increased case intake at both field offices and the Board occurred as the Agency struggled with funding and staffing shortages. The NLRB has received the same Congressional appropriation of $274.2 million for nine consecutive years as costs have risen. Adjusting for inflation, the Agency’s budget has decreased 25% since FY2014. Overall Agency staffing levels have dropped 39% since FY2002 and staffing in Field Offices has shrunk by a full 50%. The President’s Budget for FY2023 requested $319.4 million for the NLRB, a 16% increase, which would enable the Agency to begin rebuilding its staffing capacity.