The National Labor Relations Act is the principle labor legislation in the USA. It was enacted in 1935, and it made employers actions of spying, interrogating, firing, and disciplining workers for expressing their union support illegal. Before then, workers were routinely victimized by their employees to the point that Congress felt the need to fashion law that could prevent a second American Revolution.
The NLRA codifies American Labor Policy to include the right to collectively bargain with their employers for better wages, benefits, and working conditions.
It was quite a change for employers, who had built vast and tyrannical kingdoms staffed by gaunt people living on the edge of starvation. Suddenly employers were forbidden BY LAW from discriminating against workers who joined unions, who participated in a leadership role in a union, and engage in strikes called by their union.
The NLRA has 41 Sections, but for union members, Sections 7, 8, and 9 are the most often used and cited.
Section 7 plainly states that 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 or other mutual aid or protection.
Section 8 of the NLRA deals with VIOLATIONS in exercising your UNION RIGHTS. These violations are usually referred to as Unfair Labor Practices, or ULPs. There are FIVE types of behavior that employers are expressly prohibited from:
- Interference, restraint, or coercion directed against a union or other collective bargaining activity.
- Creation or domination of a labor organization.
- Discrimination against employees because of union or bargaining activity connected to their union, or to discourage support for their union.
- Retaliation for filing ULP charges or cooperating with the NLRB in investigating such charges.
- Refusal to bargain in good faith with union representatives. An employer is also forbidden from attempting to direct deal with a union member individually, outside of their elected representatives and collective bargaining agreement.
Employers are not supposed to THREATEN, DISCHARGE, INTIMIDATE, SUSPEND, DISCRIMINATE, or engage in any act in any other manner that could be interpreted as an attempt to curb, suppress, or otherwise interfere with an employees choice to engage in their UNION. They are not supposed to DENY the union information when it is asked of them, interfere or obstruct a union from investigating issues of their members, or make unilateral changes to wages, benefits, working conditions, or other subjects of mandatory bargaining.
What’ s really crazy is the lengths a company will through in violating the NLRA. They will spend MILLIONS of dollars a year on in-house lawyers and private sector union-busters to get around these simple and long-standing precepts that form the basis of a fair and just workplace.
The attack on collective bargaining has became so severe that the Congress enacted the “persuader rule“, which lists WHAT companies are employing union -busters and what law firms those skulking, slimy, back-door hucksters work for. You can even sign up for e-mail alerts from them to see if YOUR company is employing union-busters.
So when you hear a union officer saying how important it is for YOU to get involved in YOUR union, it stems from the knowledge of what has went into guaranteeing you those rights. Before the National Labor Relations Act, if you were caught by your employer talking about unionizing, you stood a very good chance of being beaten, stabbed, fired, and even shot! If you managed to live after being branded a “red”, “agitator,” or “radical” for daring to want something better for yourself and your family, you stood a good chance of being “black-balled” by employers in your field.
Workers died giving YOU the rights you have, and the right to good wages and safe workplaces. Don’t be too quick to simply give away what others paid so dear for.
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