Ways to Dissolve a Labor Union

by Jonathan Lister ; Updated September 26, 2017

The only to legally dissolve a labor union in the United States is through the National Labor Relations Board. This government division formerly creates and dissolves all labor unions in the country and also provides third-party vote counting for the election of union representatives. Dissolving a labor union is sometimes used as a calculated legal maneuver to influence the collective bargaining process. This tactic was employed by the NFL Players Association in March 2011.

Union Member Vote

The National Labor Relations Act empowers members of a labor union to dissolve the union by means of a majority vote. Members of a labor union may vote to dissolve a particular union at any time. The record of the dissolution must be sent in writing to the National Labor Relations Board. This petition to dissolve the labor union must carry the signatures of at least 30 percent of active union members, according to the website for the National Labor Relations Board.

NLRB Approval

The NLRB must certify the request of a labor union to dissolve by reviewing the union's submitted petition. An NLRB official determines if the unit of employees involved in the labor union is appropriate by making sure each member is properly employed and that all votes are reflected correctly in the union's dissolution petition. Once these criteria are certified the union is considered legally dissolved and its representation may no longer act on the behalf of former union members in any legal capacity.

Effects of Dissolving a Union

Members of a dissolved labor union lose the right to collectively bargain wages, benefits and working conditions with an employer. These workers also lose the right to collectively strike as part of a collective bargaining strategy. By that same token, an employer also loses the right to lock employees out of work when facing an impasse with regard to collective bargaining. All worker rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act take effect upon union dissolution including minimum wage standards, rights to overtime pay and discrimination based on protected criteria.

Blocking Union Dissolution

Dissolving a labor union may only be performed after the union has exhausted all other collective bargaining options. An employer may attempt to block the dissolution of a labor union and force representatives to come back to the bargaining table through a court order. The employer must show that the union did not act in good faith to negotiate a labor agreement before moving to dissolve. As of April 2011, this legal maneuver is illustrated in a motion filed by NFL owners to block the dissolution of the NFL Player's Association on the grounds that union representatives failed to negotiate up until the expiration of an existing collective bargaining agreement.

About the Author

Jonathan Lister has been a writer and content marketer since 2003. His latest book publication, "Bullet, a Demos City Novel" is forthcoming from J Taylor Publishing in June 2014. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Shippensburg University and a Master of Fine Arts in writing and poetics from Naropa University.