U.S. labor board says union representation petitions soar 53% in a year

Starbucks employees who support unionization protest ahead of Investor Day, in Seattle
Starbucks employees who support unionization protest in the company's hometown ahead of Investor Day, in Seattle, Washington, U.S. September 12, 2022. REUTERS/Hilary Russ/File Photo

NEW YORK, Oct 6 (Reuters) - The U.S. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) said on Thursday that union representation petitions increased 53% in fiscal year 2022 when compared with 2021 and were at the highest since 2016.

Workers from companies, including Starbucks Corp (SBUX.O) and Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O), are increasingly turning to established and independent unions in an effort to address their work place issues ranging from wages and benefits to pandemic-related health and safety concerns.

“Given the spike in case intake we are seeing in the field, we can expect even more cases to come before the Board in fiscal year 2023," NLRB Chairman Lauren McFerran said in a statement.

The NLRB said 2,510 union petitions were filed in fiscal year 2022 ended September, up from 1,638 petitions in the same period a year ago.

Unfair labor practice charges filed with NLRB field offices increased 19%, the agency added.

Total case intake, which includes unfair labor practices charges and representation petitions, at field offices increased 23% from fiscal year 2021 to fiscal year 2022, the largest single-year increase since 1976 and the largest percentage increase since 1959.

The agency said it has struggled with funding and staffing shortages while managing increased case intake.

NLRB staffing levels have dropped 39% since fiscal year 2002 and staffing in field offices have decreased by 50%, according to a statement.

President Joe Biden's budget for fiscal year 2023 requested $319.4 million for the NLRB, a 16% increase from the previous nine consecutive years.

Reporting by Doyinsola Oladipo in New York

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