Newswise — ITHACA, N.Y. — Federal regulators need to streamline the process for unionization because the most serious anti-union intimidation is in full swing by the time the petition for collective bargaining representation is filed, according to a new study by researchers at Cornell and Columbia universities.

The study empirically supports a long-term effort by the National Labor Relations Board to shorten the time between the filing of a petition for unionization and the date when employees vote.

“The Empirical Case for Streamlining the NLRB Certification Process: The Role of Date of Unfair Labor Practice Occurrence” concludes that streamlining the union certification process will reduce much employee harassment, interrogation, threats and retaliation that are constant and cumulative elements of employer campaigns. The study was conducted by Kate Bronfenbrenner, director of the Office of Labor Education Research at Cornell University’s ILR School and Dorian Warren, assistant professor at Columbia University’s Department of Political Science and the School of International and Public Affairs.

Bronfenbrenner and Warren found that 47 percent of serious unfair labor practice violations occur before a unionization petition is filed.

Timing matters because “employer opposition continues unabated from the first moment the union campaign goes above ground, day after day and week after week leading up to the election, and does not stop until the union has either lost the election or won a first contract.” the authors write.

“This cumulative effect of constant, pervasive and intense violations by employers undermines workers’ rights under the current lengthy NLRB election process,” Bronfenbrenner said.

The study is published by the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy at Columbia University. For more information about the institute, visit: Information about Cornell’s ILR School is available at:

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