The right of employees to organize themselves to collectively bargain protects businesses from interruption and injury through eradication of industrial strife and unrest which stifle business operations. This calls for an act to protect employees and employers against industrial disputes.
The National Labor Relations Act, NLRA was enacted by Congress in 1935 to protect both employees’ and employers’ rights. The Act gives workers in the private sector the right to collective bargaining with their employers over wages, working conditions and hours. The NLRA also restricts certain labor and management practices in the private sector, which can hurt the workers’ welfare, or the nation’s economy. However, workers have the right to not joining a union if they so wish. The employers are obliged to bargain in good faith with the union chosen by a majority of the employees (NLRA, 1935).
Under the NLRA, employees have the right to form a union for negotiations with their employer on their wages, work hours, and their employment conditions. Moreover, they can join, form or assist a union whenever possible, bargain collectively with their employer through their chosen representatives on employment terms and conditions. Further, the NLRA provides the employees with the right to act with either one or more of their co-workers to improve their working conditions by, raising job-related complaints directly with their employers, government agency, or seeking assistance from their union (NLRA, 1935).
Employees are given to right to participate in strikes and pickets depending on the purpose or means, and can choose to refrain from such activities. Workers in a union are protected by the NLRA against threats by the union on job loss to support the union. The union cannot take adverse actions against an employee based on whether they have joined the union or support it, or cause an employer to discriminate against a worker because of a union-related activity. Under the NLRA, a union cannot refuse processing a worker’s grievance because they have criticized union officials, or for not being a member of the union.
However, under the NLRA, (1935) it is illegal for an employer to bar an employee from soliciting for a union during non-work time, for instance before or after work, or from circulating union literature during non-work hours or non-work areas. Employers are not supposed to question employees about their union support or activities in a way that discourages the employees from participating in union activities.
Moreover, it is illegal for the employer to fire, reduce working hours, demote, transfer or change a worker’s shift, or threaten to take any action against a worker for joining or supporting a union, or engagement in an activity for mutual aid and protection, or for failure to opt to engage in any such activity. It is also against the law for employers to threaten employees’ workplace if they choose a union to represent them. NLRA also prohibits employers from making promises or granting promotions, wage raises, or any other benefits to bar or encourage union support. Employers cannot deny workers from wearing union hats, t-shirts, pins, and buttons in the workplace except under special conditions. Besides, employers should not spy on or videotape peaceful union proceedings and gatherings or pretend to do so (NLRA, 1935).
The NLRA prohibits employees from causing or attempting to cause their employer to pay for services not rendered, or not to be rendered. Further, the workers should not picket or participate in industrial strife that interferes with the normal flow of commerce. Employees should not distribute union literature in work areas, or use company e-mail to solicit for union support without permission from their employer.