Neutrality Agreements and Card Check Recognition: Prospects for Changing Labor Relations Paradigms

James J. Brudney
Publication Date: 
February 20, 2007

In this Issue Brief, Professor James J. Brudney of The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law examines a new approach to union organizing that increasingly serves as an alternative to the current dominant paradigm under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which is elections supervised by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Professor Brudney describes a competing process that has emerged in which unions and employers commit to a non-adversarial procedure for determining whether employees want union representation. This non-adversarial procedure, which involves neutrality agreements and card check recognition (also referred to as "majority sign-up"), is becoming the principal strategy pursued by many labor unions and represents a major development in labor-management relations. The Issue Brief describes the rise of neutrality agreements and card check verification/majority sign-up and addresses whether such procedures should modify or replace reliance on NLRB-supervised elections. Professor Brudney closely examines the business community’s critique of this new framework and explores concerns about displacing the elections paradigm. He concludes by suggesting that neutrality agreements and card check arrangements are a credible alternative model for promoting employee free choice and that the paradigm assessment process provides an opportunity for frank discussion on how to improve worker conditions and labor-management relations.