Although employers may feel some anxiety over employee unionization, employers do have rights which labor unions cannot legally interfere with. These rights are usually the same as the labor unions.
Employers, like all citizens in the United States, have the right to free speech.  Although employers cannot prevent unions from soliciting to their employees or punish employees for supporting a union, employers can express their disproval of labor unions to employees. Employers can explain to workers why they dislike unions and how unionization might affect the company.

Employers also have the right to fair bargaining. Labor unions are also compelled to act in a good faith during negotiations. The labor union cannot make an agreement and then fail to keep it. Furthermore, the employer may hold the labor union responsible if the labor union violates laws governing union conduct.

What Actions Should I Avoid if My Employees Want to Unionize?

The formation of labor unions is governed by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) of 1935.  This Act secures workers’ abilities to bargain as a group instead of individually.  The NLRA prohibits employers from firing and disciplining workers for trying to organize labor.  For the most part, employers cannot ban or discriminate against pro-union employees. If the employees want to be represented by a Union, they are free to make that choice.

  • Employers must negotiate in collective bargaining if requested
  • Both sides must negotiate in good faith, meaning that neither party can intentionally behave badly during negotiations
  • Employers cannot prevent employees from organizing
  • Employers cannot prohibit signs or symbols promoting the union
  • Employers cannot promise or grant benefits to bribe employees
  • Employers should not hold meetings about unions in a supervisor’s office

What Changes Should I Expect if my Employees Unionize?

Depending on the contract that you have agreed to, a variety of things can change in the workplace.  Most affected are wages, discipline and promotions.  You can expect more uniform wages, structured vacation accrual and promotion timelines.  Union contracts always have clauses that structure discipline procedures and termination, usually including hearings with Union Representatives.

Should I Consult an Attorney if My Employees Want to Unionize?

The process of negotiating with a labor union can be long and frustrating.  An experienced labor lawyers can help you navigate the federal laws that govern unions and achieve your goals during the negotiating process.  An employment attorney can also assist you in discipline hearings once the union is formed.