Union labor laws were designed to equalize the bargaining power between employees and employers. Typically, labor law deals with the interactions between unions and employers.
What Is a Labor Union?
A labor union is a collection of workers with similar ideas as to the conditions of employment. Usually these workers are doing the same or similar jobs. The workers unite as a union because they believe their employment needs will be better addressed if they approach the employer as a collective voice.
Employment Conditions That Unions Negotiate with Employers
- Clean and safe work environments
- Decent wages
- Health/Medical benefits
- Fair procedures for promotions and terminations
- Protections against unfair discipline or termination
Federal Labor Regulations
The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) ensures the rights of employees to be represented by unions and prohibits employers from interfering in the selection of unions. The NLRA applies to most non-agricultural employers involved in a business that affects interstate commerce.
State Laws About Unions and Labor Law
Many states have laws that address the issue of unions and labor law. Some of these states have laws similar to the NLRA that apply to employers not covered by the federal law.
The National Labor Relations Board
The NLRA established the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), an administrative agency that hears disputes between employers and unions. The NLRB also determines which union should represent a group of employees and created regulations and procedures for the formation of unions. The NLRB also has a General Counsel that investigates union or employer claims of unfair bargaining and promulgates procedures and rules for collective bargaining.
The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) imposes a duty that the employer and union engage in "good faith" collective bargaining. "Collective bargaining" is the term used to define the negotiations between employers and unions to determine the conditions of employment. When the employer and union finish negotiations, a "collective bargaining agreement" results, binding the employer to certain conditions of employment.
What Can a Union Do to Get a Collective Bargaining Agreement?
The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) also regulates what activities a union can use to persuade the employer to give them certain collective employment conditions. These activities may include:
Do I Need a Labor Law Attorney?
If a union represents you, the union may have an attorney you can consult if you are concerned about some conditions of your employment. If you are not represented by a union, or believe your union representative is not doing enough, an employment lawyer can assist you with your labor law needs. A lawyer can also help you if you are an employer dealing with a union.