Currently, the preferred method for determining whether employees want union representation is a secret ballot election, overseen by the National Labor Relations Board.

The NLRB follows strict procedures to ensure a fair election, free of employer and union coercion. Under current law, employers are prohibited from making threats of reprisal or force and from promising benefits that might interfere with an election. If employers engage in such conduct and their behavior disrupts election conditions, the NLRB may order the employer to bargain with the union, even if the union lost the election.

If a union enjoys a majority of employee support, current law allows employers to waive the secret ballot election requirement and recognize a union that produces signed union authorization cards from more than 50% of the employees.

All workers, in every industry, deserve the fundamental American right to a federally supervised secret ballot election. This right is guaranteed when voting in political elections; there is no reason it should be surrendered in the workplace.


  • Legislation that would guarantee the right of every worker to a secret ballot vote on decisions regarding union representation.


  • Any effort to overturn or diminish NLRB procedures that protect the rights of employees to fair union elections through secret ballot voting.
  • The deceptively named Protecting the Right to Organize Act (H.R. 842/S. 420), which would limit employees’ ability to choose or reject union representation through secret ballots. On March 9, 2021, H.R. 842 passed in the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 225 to 206. The bill is currently awaiting consideration by the U.S. Senate.


In the 111th Congress, labor unions unsuccessfully attempted to permanently deprive workers of their right to a secret ballot election through the deceptively named Employee Free Choice Act, also referred to as card check.

EFCA, which ABC vigorously opposed, would have fundamentally tilted the playing field in favor of union organizing by effectively eliminating secret ballot elections as a method of determining whether employees want a union. Instead, it would require an employer to recognize a union in all cases based on a mere check of authorization cards that unions would collect from employees. The card-signing process would have none of the protections offered by secret ballot elections, and employees could be subjected to coercion, peer pressure and threats, as well as a process that invites fraud.

ABC and its member companies will continue to oppose any actions that would take away American workers’ rights to a secret ballot election.