During the first nine months of Fiscal Year 2022 (October 1–June 30), union representation petitions filed at the NLRB have increased 56%—up to 1,935 from 1,240 during the first three quarters of FY2021. By May 25, FY2022 petitions exceeded the total number of petitions filed in all of FY2021. At the same time, unfair labor practice charges have increased 14.5%—from 11,451 to 13,106.

A representation petition is filed by employees, unions, or employers with an NLRB Field Office to have the NLRB conduct an election to determine if employees wish to be represented by a union. The Field Office investigates the petitions and, if meritorious, conducts an election to allow employees to decide whether or not they wish to be represented by a union.

An unfair labor practice charge is filed by any member of the public with an NLRB Field Office if they believe an employer or union has violated the National Labor Relations Act. The Field Office will then investigate the charge and issue a complaint, absent settlement, if the Regional Director determines the charge has merit.  

The increase in cases comes during a period of critical funding and staffing shortages for the Agency. 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 FY2010. Overall Agency staffing levels have dropped 39% since FY2002 and field staffing has shrunk by 50%. The President’s Budget for FY2023 requested $319.4 million for the NLRB, a 16% budget increase.

“The NLRB is processing the most cases it has seen in years with the lowest staffing levels in the past six decades. Our dedicated staff, especially in our 48 field offices, are handling unsustainable caseloads. The Agency urgently needs more resources to process petitions and conduct elections, investigate unfair labor practice charges, and obtain full remedies for workers whose labor rights have been violated,” said NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo. “We need Congress to help us restore the capacity that we have lost after years of underfunding.”

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