Much Ado about Nothing: NLRB Regulation of Union Affiliation Elections


For nearly forty years, since the late 1940s, the News Employees Association of Dayton (NEAD), a small, independent union, represented the editorial employees of Dayton Newspapers, Inc. (DNI), publisher of the Dayton Daily News. Over the years, NEAD occasionally threatened to affiliate with The Newspaper Guild (the Guild), primarily as a negotiating tactic, although no serious effort to affiliate was ever undertaken. In the fall of 1985, NEAD began negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement. DNI brought in a particularly aggressive negotiator, who precipitated some of the most heated negotiations in NEAD’s history. Over the course of several months, DNI engaged in numerous tactics which led to an extraordinary level of disenchantment among all members of the bargaining unit.

In August 1986, after nearly a year of failed negotiations and amidst increasing frustration among the union membership, NEAD decided to explore affiliation with the Guild. After hearing a presentation by a Guild representative, the members voted overwhelmingly to schedule an affiliation election as soon as legally possible. Concerned that every care be taken to assure the orderliness and fairness of the affiliation vote, NEAD hired a law professor to advise it on the conduct of the election. Shortly thereafter, union negotiators reached a tentative contract settlement with DNI.

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