Workers Rights to Organize
The National Labor Relations Act, also known as the Wagner Act, is a federal law that protects the rights of workers who organize to address issues regarding working conditions, wages and benefits. The Act outlines basic rights for workers including the right to join a union, the right to strike, and the right for workers (excluding mangers and supervisors) to organize or help organize a union.
More specifically, the National Labor Relations Act gives workers the right to:
- Partake in meetings about unions
- Read, hand out and discuss union literature during breaks and lunch
- Wear union items, including shirts, buttons, etc.
- Sign petitions or file complaints about pay, hours, and working conditions
- Ask other workers to support the union and sign petitions
In addition to providing rights to workers, the National Labor Relations Act bans employers from partaking in unfair labor practices. Some of these unfair acts from management include:
- Threatening to fire an employee if they join a union, vote for a union or otherwise partake in union activity
- Threatening a worker, including demotions, warnings etc., because of union activity
- Spying on union activity
- Increasing wages or benefits to avoid unionizing
- Questioning workers about union activity
- Threatening a decrease in benefits or wages for union activity
Management can also be responsible if an anti-union employee makes a threat against other workers. This condition of the Act prevents managers and supervisors from using workers to threaten other employees.
Businesses have the right to make a prediction on what will happen if a union wins. A prediction, however, becomes a threat when it encompasses something that the employer can control. For instance, a manger can state that the company may lose a client if the union wins. This statement is protected by free speech because the company cannot control what the client will decide. However, if a manager states that a union would cost too much and force a cut in employees, it would be considered a threat.
National Labor Relations Act
When examining labor practices, the National Labor Relations Act will consider the employer's conduct throughout the entire campaign. If management frequently breaks labor laws, or commits several minor infractions, the law may find them in violation. Therefore, employees should keep note of all violations, with the date, time, and names of witnesses. If you feel your rights have been violated, you can file charges with the National Labor Relations Board through your union or potential union.
A coalition of labor unions, Change to Win aims to create a movement that meets the challenges of today’s economy and restores American ideals. Find out how you, your family and fellow workers can live out the “American Dream.”