Employees Can Show They Want A Union With Electronic Signatures

The NLRB recently issued a memo allowing Unions to prove that employees want an election with electronically-signed proof of support.  This new method provides yet another tool that Unions can use creatively when organizing a non-traditional or hard to reach workforce.

As you may know, in order to obtain a representation election for a new unit under the NLRA, the Union must submit a “showing of interest,” indicating that at least 30% of the workers are interested in being represented.  Traditionally, the showing of interest consists of hand-signed authorization cards or a list of handwritten signatures.  (i.e. “wet signatures”)

As of September 1, 2015, the NLRB published a memorandum permitting Unions to submit electronic signatures in place of wet signatures for the showing of interest.  There are extra requirements that don’t apply to wet signatures. The submitted electronic signatures must contain the following:

  1. The signer’s name;
  2. The signer’s email address or other known contact information;
  3. The signer’s telephone number;
  4. The language to which the signer has agreed (e.g., that the signer wishes to be represented by the Union)
  5. The date the electronic signature was submitted; and,
  6. The name of the employer.
  7. Do not submit: Social security numbers, dates of birth, or other sensitive personal information. The Board will reject submissions with this information.

In addition, the Union has two options:

  1. The Union can submit a declaration that meets certain requirements with the showing of interest.  Generally, the declaration must identify what technology was used to obtain the electronic signature, and must describe how the technology ensures that the signature is actually that of the employee.
  2. If the Union cannot make such a declaration because the technology used does not ensure the above, the Union can submit evidence that the Union promptly transmitted a written confirmation of the signature to the employee at her/his cell phone, email or social media account. If this option is used, any reply by the employee to the confirmation message must be also submitted to the Board at the time the showing of interest is submitted. The confirmation must meet other requirements as well.

Just as with the traditional method, an electronic showing of interest that meets these requirements is presumed valid unless there is timely submitted, objective evidence that it is not valid.  Because this method is so new, it is important to consult with your labor attorney before gathering electronic signatures, and before filing any representation petition using electronic signatures.  

This change provides one more tool in labor’s toolkit for increasing our numbers and building a movement that meets the challenges of the future.

By Xochitl Lopez | September 24, 2015

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