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U.S. | Labor & Workers

The Law Says You Have a Right to Join a UNION!
by Union Organizing
Friday Sep 27th, 2013 5:29 AM
RIGHTS OF EMPLOYEES

Sec. 7. [§ 157.] Employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection, and shall also have the right to refrain from any or all of such activities except to the extent that such right may be affected by an agreement requiring membership in a labor organization as a condition of employment as authorized in section 8(a)(3) [section 158(a)(3) of this title].
RIGHTS OF EMPLOYEES

Sec. 7. [§ 157.] Employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection, and shall also have the right to refrain from any or all of such activities except to the extent that such right may be affected by an agreement requiring membership in a labor organization as a condition of employment as authorized in section 8(a)(3) [section 158(a)(3) of this title].

What rules govern collective bargaining for a contract?
After employees choose a union as a bargaining representative, the employer and union are required to meet at reasonable times to bargain in good faith about wages, hours, vacation time, insurance, safety practices and other mandatory subjects. Some managerial decisions such as subcontracting, relocation, and other operational changes may not be mandatory subjects of bargaining, but the employer must bargain about the decision's effects on unit employees.

It is an unfair labor practice for either party to refuse to bargain collectively with the other, but parties are not compelled to reach agreement or make concessions.

IT'S ALWAYS wise to take full advantage of YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS.

WITH A UNION, the employer must bargain and pay the wages negotiated.

WITH A UNION, your rights on the job are spelled out and must be respected.

WITH A UNION, you can stop abuses on the job. The union can prevent unjust and unfair treatment by giving you representation on the job and the right to file grievances if you are treated unfairly.

WITH A UNION, you can negotiate for better holiday pay, vacations, health and welfare benefits, and job conditions.

WITH A UNION, you have greater security on your job. Company management cannot fire you without good reason and they must respect your length of service if there are layoffs.

What Are Your Rights?

It is unlawful for your employer or supervisor to interfere with, restrain or coerce employees seeking to organize or join a union.

What employers and supervisors can NOT do:

1) They CANNOT tell employees that the Employer will fire or punish them if they engage in union activity.

2) They CANNOT lay off or discharge any employee for union activity

3) They CANNOT grant employees wage increases or special concessions in order to keep the union out.

4) They CANNOT bar employee union representatives from talking with members during non-working hours.

5) They CANNOT ask employees about confidential union matters, meetings, etc.

6) They CANNOT ask employees about the union or about union representatives.

7) They CANNOT ask employees how they intend to vote.

8) They CANNOT ask employees whether or not they belong to a union or have signed up for a union.

9) They CANNOT by the nature of the work assignment, create conditions intended to get rid of an employee because of his or her union activity.

10) They CANNOT threaten workers or coerce them in an attempt to influence their vote.

11) They CANNOT tell employees that existing benefits will be discontinued if the institution is unionized. )

12) They CANNOT say unionization will force the employer to lay off workers.

13) They CANNOT say unionization will take away vacations or other benefits and privileges presently in effect.

14) They CANNOT promise employees promotions, raise or other benefits if they get out of the union or refrain from joining it.

Any of the above acts constitutes a violation of the National Labor Relations Act.

Employer unfair labor practices of the kind that occur typically in organizing campaigns are addressed primarily in two sections of the Act: Section 8(a)(1) and Section 8(a)(3).

Section 8(a)(1) says the employer may not "interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees" in the exercise of their rights.

Section 8 (a)(3) says the employer may not discriminate against employees with regard to the tenure of their employment or any terms or conditions of employment in order to discourage union activity or concerted activity.

In general, 8(a)(1)'s are threats and 8(a)(3)'s are the carrying out of the threats or the actual discrimination.

The following are some examples of employee rights and employer unfair labor practices.

Employee Right to Campaign for the Union

As a rule, employees have an absolute right to campaign for the union during non-working times in non-work areas.
Most campaigning by employees takes place during breaks in non-work areas, and before and after work.

In those situations when talking about other non-work topics is allowed - employees may campaign orally for the union - even during work hours.

The right to distribute literature and to solicit cards may be somewhat more restricted. Employers can limit such activity to the employee's own time and to non-work areas. However, in most work situations, employers may not prohibit workers from wearing union buttons or t-shirts.

Any no-solicitation rules adopted by the employer may not discriminate against union activity. Any privileges given to anti-union committees should be given to pro-union employees. In addition, off-work employees must normally be allowed access to parking lots and entrance gates, except in special circumstances.

Access Rights of Organizers
Non-employee organizers can be barred from company premises in most circumstances, but organizers do have a first amendment right to distribute literature on public property.

Surveillance
Employers are prohibited from spying on employees engaged in union activity. It is also a violation to create the impression that surveillance is occurring.

Interrogation
It is an unfair labor practice for management to question employees about their union sympathies, although this does not apply to employees who are openly pro union, unless the atmosphere is coercive. For example, it is not objectionable for supervisors to debate a pro-union employee about why he or she supports the union. But to seek out and interrogate secret supporters is objectionable.

Threats
Although the employer may criticize and attack the union, even to the point of making untrue statements, it is unlawful for the employer to threaten to retaliate against employees for supporting the union. This includes threats to fire, layoff, close the facility, or take away benefits because the employees voted for a union.

Granting of Raises or Benefits
Special raise or new benefits given during a campaign, or promises of such, are unlawful if used as a bribe. However, it is rare for unions to file charges over such conduct.

Bargaining Order
If the company engages in a massive pattern of unfair labor practices, and the union can prove majority support at some point, the board may order the employer to bargain despite a union election loss. This referred to "Gissell" order.

Domination or Support of Union
Employers may not provide support to a particular union or employee group as a way of discouraging independent union activity, nor can the employer fund anti-union committees.

Discharges and Other Discriminatory Actions
The employer may not discriminate against an employee to discourage union activity, by firing, laying off, demoting, or in any way discriminating with respect to the person's tenure of employment.

To prove such a violation of section 8 (a)(3) of the Act, the employee must demonstrate both of the following:

Company knowledge of the employee's union activity;
Anti-union motivation for the discrimination (The Board calls this "animus.")
The usual remedy for an unlawful discharge is reinstatement with back pay.

Retaliation for Testifying
It is a violation of section 8(a)(4) of the act to retaliate against an employee for participating in Board proceedings.

Supervisors
It should be noted that since supervisors are not covered by the Act, it is not unlawful for an employer to fire a supervisor for supporting the union. However, it is a violation of section 8(, I)(1) to fire a supervisor for refusing to violate the law.

Undocumented Workers
Undocumented workers are covered by the protection of the NLRB. It is in unfair labor practice for the employer to call in the Immigration and Naturalization Service to report pro union employees.