You have the legal right to join or support a union and to participate in the following union activities:
- Attend meetings to discuss joining a union.
- Read, distribute, and discuss union literature, as long as you do this in non-work areas during non-work times, such as breaks or lunch hours.
- Wear union buttons, T-shirts, stickers, hats, or other items on the job.
- Sign a card asking your employer to recognize and bargain with the union.
- Sign petitions or file grievances related to wages, hours, working conditions, and other job issues.
- Ask other employees to support the union, to sign union cards or petitions, or to file grievances.
“Good Faith” Bargaining
After the union’s election victory is officially certified by the National Labor Relations Board, your employer is legally required to negotiate in “good faith” with the union on a written contract covering wages, hours, and other working conditions.
Before most union elections, the company will try to persuade workers to vote against the Union. They say they would make things better, things will change and will ask for another chance. The way we see it, if they really are going to treat workers better, they shouldn’t have any problem putting it down in writing, in a legal contract. Union elections take hard work to win, but are well worth it. Having a guaranteed union contract in today’s economy is something we can all count on.
The National Labor Relations Act Says:
- Section 7: “Employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representation of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining…”
- Section 8(a): “It shall be an unfair labor practice for an employer…to interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed in Section 7…”
Protection from Employer Action
Your employer cannot legally punish or discriminate against any worker because of union activity. For example, your employer cannot legally do the following:
- Threaten to actually fire, lay off, discipline, harass, transfer, or reassign employees because they support the union.
- Favor employees who don’t support the union over those who do in promotions, job assignments, wages, hours, enforcement of rules, or any other working condition.
- Shut down the work site or take away any benefits or privileges employees already enjoy in order to discourage union activity.
- Promise employees a pay increase, promotion, benefit, or special favor if they oppose the union.
If your employer violates the law, the union can help you file “Unfair Labor Practice” changes with the National Labor Relations Board.
Backed up by the federal courts, the Labor Board has the power to order an employer to stop interfering with employees’ rights, to provide back pay, and to reverse any action taken against workers for union activity.