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Employee Rights - Union/Group Activity

In recent times, there has been a gradual decline in the number of employees belonging to a union. If the employee belongs to the union, his/her employment relationship is pretty much covered by their collective bargaining agreement.

The Labor-Management Relations Act (LMRA), also called the Taft- Hartley Act, regulates the activities and outlines the rights of unions, employers, and employees, and prohibits certain unfair labor practices. The basic purpose of the Act was to provide a balance of bargaining power between employers and employees by allowing employees to organize and bargain collectively and also to impose certain restrictions on how far unions can go in organizing a company’s employees.

The law is enforced by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The claims of violation of the LMRA are filed with the NLRB. If after investigation the charges are found true against the employer or the union for committing unfair labor practices, the NLRB has the right to order a ceasing of such activity, and also to ask them to take remedial actions to fix the situation.

If the employee is part of the union, his/her employment relationship regarding wages and hours, work schedules, bonuses, seniority, vacations, insurance plans, physical examinations, retirement-pension plans, work rules, safety rules, lunch and coffee breaks, discipline, and discharge, along with grievances, are regulated by union contract.

If the union employee has a problem at the workplace, he/she should consult the union representative, and the union will decide whether the employee has a reasonable complaint.

If the complaint is genuine, the union will file a grievance on the employee’s behalf. The hearing of the complaint will be based on the collective bargaining contract. However, if the employee is not satisfied or pleased with the result, he/she can proceed on his/her own.

Under LMRA, union and non-union employees have the following rights:

  • To join a union.
  • To bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing,
  • To participate in activities, such as strikes and picketing.
  • Employees, if not bonded by a collective bargaining agreement to join the union, can refuse to take part in any of the activities mentioned above.
  • Employers cannot refuse to bargain in good faith with the union that is the recognized representative of employees.
  • Employers cannot discriminate against employees who are paid union organizer.
  • Employers cannot prohibit the distribution of union literature by any employee in non-working areas and during non-working hours,
  • It is illegal if the employer decreases or threatens to decrease wages or withdraw privileges when faced with the union organization campaign.
  • It is unfair to increase or promise to increase wages or improve conditions while the union is trying to organize workers.
  • Employers do not have the right to ask an employee’s opinion of the union, unless they are expressively trying to determine that the union actually has the majority support it claims to have.
  • Employers are prohibited from spying on or eavesdropping on employees’ union activities.
  • Employers cannot discharge or discipline employees for filing charges under the LMRA or for testifying in proceedings conducted under the Act.
  • If employees are part of the union, they have the right to have the union representative present at any meeting with management, in case there are chances of disciplinary action taken against them for any reason.
  • Employees have the right to be told beforehand the issue to be raised at the meeting, so they can discuss it union representatives.
  • Employers cannot blacklist employees because of union activity.
  • Employers cannot ask employees about past union membership.
  • Employers cannot refuse to discuss the employee’s grievances with the authorized union representative.

However, the union cannot force the employer to reprimand a particular employee who does not support the union. Unions are subject to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and it is illegal for the union to discriminate against the participant on the basis of race, sex, age, handicap, national origin, or religion. Employers have the right to close their place of business and not allow employees to work, to resolve a labor dispute in their favor.

know your rights now!