Employees covered by the National Labor Relations Act are afforded certain rights to join together to improve their wages and working conditions, with or without a union.
Employees have the right to attempt to form a union where none currently exists, or to decertify a union that has lost the support of employees.
Examples of employee rights include:
Activity Outside a Union
Employees who are not represented by a union also have rights under the NLRA. Specifically, the National Labor Relations Board protects the rights of employees to engage in “concerted activity”, which is when two or more employees take action for their mutual aid or protection regarding terms and conditions of employment. A single employee may also engage in protected concerted activity if he or she is acting on the authority of other employees, bringing group complaints to the employer’s attention, trying to induce group action, or seeking to prepare for group action.
A few examples of protected concerted activities are:
More information, including descriptions of actual concerted activity cases, is available on the protected concerted activity page.
Who is covered?
Most employees in the private sector are covered by the NLRA. However, the Act specifically excludes individuals who are:
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"
What your Employer Cannot Do:
It is unlawful for Supervisors or Managers at your workplace to interfere with, restrain or coerce employees seeking to organize or join a Union. Any of the following acts constitute a violation of the federal law.
It is truly amazing at what lengths companies will go to tell you how to spend your hard earned money. What if companies told you where to buy your car, what kind of car to buy, what kind of cell phone to purchase, what computer to buy, where to get your groceries, what food to buy, where to go on trips for vacations, where to buy your gas, what to eat for lunch, what house to buy, where to get your car serviced, etc.? So why do companies use every tool in their arsenal to tell you not to purchase the rights for dignity and respect on the job? If they don't want you to purchase this service, why don't they tell you not to purchase other services you use everyday? Because they know that if you have a union, you are no longer under the thumb and control of the company. On the contrary, they know by forming a union, you have the control over your own life making your own choices that are fair and equitable for you and your family. If they don't tell you how to spend your money outside of work, tell them not to tell you how to spend your money at work.
Typical Employer Anti-Union Tools - Companies have access to a wide variety of anti-union material from many sources. The typical anti-union campaign has a timeline of activities where you can expect confusion, coercion and intimidation to keep you from becoming a union. Lies are usually out front. Companies will tell flat-out lies and put out misinformation and statements about the IAM every step of the way to try and convince you that forming a union is a bad deal for you. Or have you heard this one? "We'll have to close down and move elsewhere if the union gets in here" or "We will no longer afford to be in business". The list goes on with what companies tell their employees. All this rhetoric, while they rake in millions of dollars in profits. Companies go to extraordinary lengths to make sure you stay "union free". When was the last time your employer cared so much about your well-being except when you decided to look into forming a union? In some campaigns, companies will go to the edge or break the law just to prevent you from forming a union. Know your rights and keep good notes and copies of company propaganda and threats. Good documentation is very helpful should the IAM need to file Unfair Labor Practices (ULP) against the employer for unlawful activity. The IAM will not respond to all anti-union rhetoric. The IAM believes in staying positive and on-task while assisting you in forming your union.
Typical Employer Tactics:
Week 1 - Get Supervisors involved - Companies will usually start introducing the company's position on unions. Keeping companies "union free" is big business in America. Books, videos, seminars and consultants all aid employers in their attempts to convince you that staying "union free" is in your best interest. "Union Busters" The "Union Avoidance" industry, a term heavily used by employers, employs more than 10,000 lawyers and consultants.They are usually called in the moment a company hears that employees are interested in unionizing.
Week 1 - Job Security - For the first week of the campaign, management has prepared its front line troops, the supervisors. Preparation is over and the ground work is laid. Management is ready to begin its all-out assault. By this time you have probably received at least one handbill/love letter from the company. Focus on the second week shifts to the first of several issues that you will be hammered with over the coming weeks. Job security is usually one of the first issues given, playing on the potential fear created through the idea of economic insecurity.
Week 2 - Collective Bargaining - The general goal this week is to convince you that you will receive less under a union contract than you already have. You may begin to hear things like "you start from zero when negotiating a contract and you may end up with less than you have already". Or they may say you'll start from a "clean sheet of paper". Its unlawful for your employer to say any of these statements. Department of labor statistics show that unionized workers have better wages, benefits and working conditions than non-union workers.
Week 2 - Direct Assault on the IAM - What is more intimidating than direct assaults to your personal security? During the campaign management will try to create an atmosphere under which you and your co-workers become fearful of the union. Attempts will be made to make you believe that vandalism and intimidation are what the union is about. These attempts are usually carried out using two themes: Vandalism of personal property and threats and intimidation of your co-workers.
Week 3 - Strikes - One of the most effective tools in a union buster's arsenal is strikes. The reason they advise managers and supervisors to hammer this issue as often as possible is because not only does it conjure up images of personal security but economic security as well. Let's unravel the myth of strikes. Although the company would love for you to believe that you "can be called out on strike" the Machinists Union requires that 2/3 majority "vote" to strike. During the past 10 years, IAM negotiators won fair agreement without loss of a minutes work in over 99% of our contracts. In fact, more people in the U.S. miss work due to the common cold than because of strikes!
Week 3 - The "Final Push" and the "Sympathy Plea" - Now it is the last week of the campaign. This is the employer's last chance to convince you that a union would not be in your best interest. Time is running out and for the employer, and desperate times require desperate measures. During the week your employer will review each of the topics already discussed. Letters home or meetings will occur almost every day of the week of the election. They will also plea for a second chance to address your issues, however, those issues will never be addressed, nor will they be binding without a Union contract.
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