Organizing a Labor Union: Is It Legal to Form or Join a Labor Union?

Let’s admit it. A high compensation is one of the biggest deciding factors that we take into account when joining a company. But other factors can contribute to job satisfaction, such as benefits, working hours, safety, opportunities for growth, and others.

What if you’re working too hard but not getting enough in return? Whether you belong to the manufactured goods industry or the education sector, you need a voice in your workplace. A labor union may be the best option. 

What Exactly Is a Labor Union?

A labor union is an organization of workers who come together and engage in collective bargaining with their employers. They negotiate their concerns about their wages, benefits, safety in their workplace, working hours, and holiday and leave. If they succeed, their employers concede to their demands. But failures can result in strikes or work cessation. 

Unions function like democracies. They hold elections and elect officers who can make decisions and negotiate on their behalf. Though unions are not free, they work hard to establish workplace protections and wage standards. If you become unionized, here are a few of the benefits you can get:

  • Unions will protect your rights to work.
  • Unions will help you defend your rights.
  • Unions will make sure that you will have better retirement opportunities.
  • Unions can increase your negotiation power against your employer.
  • Unions can help you earn more.

Who Can Join Labor Unions?

In the US, anybody can join or form a union except those who are managers. People making significant decisions in the company with their own judgment are also excluded since they’re considered a part of the organization’s bargaining power, not employees. 

Others include:

  • Confidential employees
  • Employed by parents or spouse
  • Domestic workers
  • Agricultural workers
  • Contractors
  • Railway workers

In 2020, public sector unions had an increase in their members as opposed to the private sectors. They’re usually city employees, government workers, police, and teachers. Most of them are older, male, and locals from the Midwest, Northeaster, and California. This analysis shows that there is a better union in public servicing.

Is It Legal to Form or Join a Labor Union?

The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) of 1935, Section 7, says that you have a right to join or organize a labor union in your workplace. Also, you can choose and assist any labor organizations you want. Under your right, you can exercise the following activities:

  • Attending union meetings
  • Wearing union buttons
  • Filling out an authorization card
  • Inviting others to fill out cards
  • Talking about the union with other workers
  • Handing out union literature

Can I Get Fired for Joining or Forming a Union?

If you worry that you will be fired or punished by your employer for joining or organizing a union, the NLRA, Section 8, protects you. They cannot threaten, harass, transfer, or reassign you to other workplaces. Also, they cannot shut down the worksite or eliminate the benefits and privileges of employees who support unions.

On top of these, they cannot favor employees who don’t join a union over you. For example, they can’t promise promotions, higher pay, special favors, and other benefits to those who oppose it.

Enforcing Your Rights

You need to build a strong organization in your workplace to encourage your employer to recognize your hard work and negotiate fair working conditions. Keep in mind that you are protected by the law when it comes to joining or organizing a labor union. If they violate these rights, you can file “unfair labor practice” charges with the National Labor Relations Board.