Contract Bar Doctrine Law and Legal Definition

The contract bar doctrine provides that once a contract is executed, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) generally does not permit a representation election in the unit covered by the contract until the contract expires up to a 3 year limit. This rule applies to a petition by another union to represent the employees, a petition filed by the employees to decertify, or a petition filed by the employer. The contract bar doctrine is followed in determining whether or not an existing collective-bargaining contract will bar an election.

Examples of contracts that would not bar an election are:

  • The contract is not in writing, or is not signed.
  • The contract has not been ratified by the members or the union, if such is expressly required.
  • The contract does not contain substantial terms or conditions of employment sufficient to stabilize the bargaining relationship.
  • The contract can be terminated by either party at any time for any reason.
  • The contract contains a clearly illegal union-security clause.
  • The bargaining unit is not appropriate.
  • The union that entered the contract with the employer is no longer in existence or is unable or unwilling to represent the employees.
  • The contract discriminates between employees on racial grounds.
  • The contract covers union members only.
  • The contracting union is involved in a basic internal conflict at the highest levels with resulting unstabilizing confusion about the identity of the union.
  • The employer’s operations have changed substantially since the contract was executed.