It’s easy to sit back and complain and ask what your union dues actually do for you. The answer is even easier; your status as a union member gives you protected legal status under federal law.
Here is a brief rundown of some of the main laws that enshrine your rights as a union member:
1932 Norris–LaGuardia Act
- Stated that workers had a legal right to organize
- Made it more difficult to get injunctions against peaceful union activities
Before this act, union organizers, ,supporters, and sympathizers were labelled “Reds”, “agitators”, and were often harassed, beaten, and even killed for attempting to organize a union.
1935 National Labor Relations Act (or Wagner Act)
- Made it illegal for employers to discriminate based on union membership
- Established the National Labor Relations Board to investigate unfair labor practices
- Established a voting procedure for workers to certify a union as their bargaining agent
- Required employers to recognize certified unions and bargain with them in good faith 1938 FLSA
- Banned many types of child labor
- Established the first federal minimum wage (25 cents per hour)
- Established a standard 40-hour workweek
- Required that hourly workers receive overtime pay when they work in excess of 40 hours per week
This is the Act that gave unions the “teeth” to protect their members by providing a legal framework to address grievances and a legal remedy that hold employers accountable to he membership.
1947 Labor–Management Relations (Taft-Hartley) Act
- Identified unfair labor practices by unions and declared them illegal
- Allowed employers to speak against unions during organizing campaigns
- Allowed union members to decertify their union, removing its right to represent them
- Established provisions for dealing with emergency strikes that threatened the nation’s health or security
This Act hold unions responsible to the membership, as well as America’s union workers responsibility to national security in times and national crisis. This is because many of this nations most important industries rely on skilled union labor. This Act was considered anti-union at the time and is still controversial.
1959 Labor–Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (or Landrum–Griffin Act)
- Guaranteed rank and file union members the right to participate in union meetings
- Required regularly scheduled secret ballot elections of union officers
- Required unions to file annual financial reports
- Prohibited convicted felons and Communist Party members from holding union office
In the shadow of McCarthyism, this Act settled, once and for all, that workplace democracy is NOT socialism or communism, as many anti-union profiteers had long accused them of being.
Unions are often criticized as being “political”, but it’s in the political arena that union rights are kept and maintained. Many of these Acts were passed under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Administration, under his New Deal policies.
FDR ascended from American aristocracy, yet his New Deal programs made many wealthy and powerful men to accuse FDR and being a traitor to his class. There even many serious plots to depose FDR and replace him with a fascist, or puppet regime. These plots were heavily financed and well laid out by the powerful industrialists of the day (for more information, read Sally Denton’s The Plots Against The President).
All these laws have been under attack ever since, except those who wish to destroy organized labor learned lessons from union organizers and began multiple campaigns to control and manipulate information, fear, traditionalism, and righteous outrage of YOU, the individual worker and voter, to vote away your protections and rights.
As a union member, it is your duty, to yourself, your family, your union, and your country to be on guard against those who would spread “fake news”, lies, and conspiracies that may lead you astray.
Union members, as well as all Americans, know how to fight, and once committed to a fight, they are passionate, relentless, and strong in united voices. It’s important that we rally around the right things, based on solid facts, and act in solidarity by realizing the things that unite us far outweigh the the issues that our enemies use to try and divide us.