Overview: While the percentage of US workers that are unionized has been declining for years, the importance unions play for those they represent continues to be high. The management of labor relations is an important area of concern in the workplace. Both employers and employees covered by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) have rights and obligations regarding the unionization of employees. Some key concepts for employers include collective bargaining, lockout, strikes, unfair labor practice, protected concerted activity, right to work, and good faith bargaining - but there are many more!
Trends: Currently 24 states, mostly in the southern and western areas of the United States, are "Right to Work" states. Union organizing is more difficult in these states because they prohibit a union and an employer from reaching an agreement to require union membership and financial support in the form of dues as a condition of continuing employment.
Non-union employers should NOT be complacent that the NLRA or the NLRB don't apply to them. The NLRB has recently ruled in several broad areas, notably social media and employment-at-will disclaimers, which affect all workplaces, union and non-union alike.
Author: Melissa Boyce, JD, Legal Editor
Certain senior management and HR practices can help prevent unionization. This section helps employers exercise free speech and win a union election campaign with information on prohibited practices during a union organizing campaign (TIPS), preventing tainted "laboratory conditions," effective captive audience meetings with employees, and policies related to solicitation and distribution, employer bulletin boards, email and social networking.
Employers must be careful when communicating with employees during the union election process. The steps detailed in this How To provide best practices regarding how to communicate with employees in the time leading up to and during the actual election.
The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protects the rights of an employee to organize and form a union in order to address issues regarding wages, hours and working conditions. An employee, even in the absence of a union, also has the right to engage in protected concerted activity- acting on behalf of co-workers or interacting with others for the legitimate furtherance of their common interests.
Conditional reinstatement is a remedy available to undocumented workers who were terminated for participating in protected labor activities, according to a new ruling from the National Labor Relations Board.
The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) sets out many important employee and employer protections. This section highlights which employees and employers are covered by the NLRA, and illegal employer activities to avoid, especially in the new social media age of Facebook and Twitter.
In a dispute between a union and/or employees and their employer, the ultimate economic weapons either side may use respectively to achieve its goals are a strike by the union/employees and a lockout by the employer. This section assists HR professionals in navigating strikes and lockouts under the National Labor Relations Act.
President Obama has pocket vetoed a congressional resolution that would have overturned a new rule governing union representation election procedures issued by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
California employers seeking a way of informing employees about the circumstances under which solicitation and/or distribution of written materials is prohibited should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.
National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) General Counsel Richard F. Griffin, Jr., has issued a report concerning recent employer work rule cases. The report discusses and synthesizes a number of recent challenges to employee handbooks and policies that were presented in cases reviewed, challenged or resolved by the Office of the General Counsel.
The NLRB has issued a decision addressing the propriety of strict confidentiality provisions in performance improvement plan forms.
HR and legal considerations for employers regarding the management of labor relations. Support and guidance on the ever growing field of labor law.