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Under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) you have the legal right to form a union in your workplace.  The NLRA says:

Section 7 (U.S. Code Title 29, Chapter 7, 157): "Employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining ....."

Section 7 gives you the right to:

  • Attend meetings to discuss joining a union.

  • Read, distribute, and discuss union literature (as long as you do this in non-work area during non-work times, such as during breaks or lunch hours.)

  • Wear union buttons, T-shirts, stickers, hats, or other items on the job (providing you can wear non-union related items.  The company cannot discriminate because it relates to union.)

Section 8(a)(U.S. Code Title 29, Chapter 7, 158a):  "It shall be an unfair labor practice for an employer .... to interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed in Section 7 of this title...."

Section 8(a) makes it illegal for the Company to:

  • Threaten to or actually fire, lay off, discipline, harass, transfer, or reassign employees because they support the union.

  • Favor employees who don't support the union over those who do in promotions, job assignments, wages, hours, enforcement of rules, or any other working condition.

  • Shut down the worksite or take away any benefits or privileges employees already enjoy in order to discourage union activity.

  • Promise employees a pay increase, promotion, benefits, or special favors if they oppose the union.

What this means to employees

    • It means that employees are supposed to have a FREE CHOICE in deciding whether or not they want to use their right to organize. Anything that an employer does to interfere with this free choice is against the law.
    • It means that employers who get 'nose trouble' during an organizing campaign are breaking the law. An employer is not supposed to question employees, or even to find out, about how employees feel, who signed cards, which employees are pushing the union, who attended meetings, what went on at meetings, etc. It is none of their business.
    • It means that an employer is not supposed to make any promises of raises, promotions, or other benefits in order to influence employees in the exercise of their rights.
    • It means that an employer cannot take away, or threaten to take away, any benefits which you already have because of your union activity.
    • It means that it is illegal for an employer to penalize an employee in any manner because of his union activity or belief. This includes such things as cutting out overtime, transferring to a less desirable job, suspension or discharge.

While we have rights under the law, laws are only good if they are enforced. Companies frequently get away with breaking the law during elections. That's why it is important to work with an IBEW representative to make sure rights are protected.

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