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
Minnesota employers seeking to inform employees about their rights related to wage disclosure, as well as the limitations on such disclosures, should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.
Newly-elected Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has issued an executive order to bar unions from requiring all state workers to pay the equivalent of union dues. This order affects an estimated 6,500 state employees who are not union members.
The Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that a group of retired employees are not necessarily entitled to permanent, contribution-free health care benefits. Writing for the Court, Justice Clarence Thomas said, "Employers or other plan sponsors are generally free under ERISA at any time to adopt, modify or terminate welfare plans."
As a result of two significant legal developments relating to union representation elections and employee use of work email, additional Labor Relations content has been updated.
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.
If an employer believes a union may be attempting to organize its employees, the employer may want to determine which group of employees is appropriate for a particular union for a number of reasons. Employers should follow the steps outlined in this How To to determine what group of employees is appropriate for a particular union.
An employer may use this Solicitation and Distribution Policy to manage the solicitation and distribution of information among employees and outsiders, usually in a non-union environment, and to establish guidelines for compliance with the National Labor Relations Act in a completely non-discriminatory manner.
An employer may use this policy to set the parameters for use of communication resources, particularly electronic resources, such as email, internet services and social media. The Email Policy for Collective Bargaining Agreement should be used in conjunction with an Acknowledgement and Consent Form.
HR and legal considerations for employers regarding the management of labor relations. Support and guidance on the ever growing field of labor law.