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 28 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 work rules, social media and joint employers, which affect all workplaces, union and non-union alike.
Author: Melissa Boyce, JD, Legal Editor
Updated to reflect legal developments regarding the Seattle Hotel Employees Health and Safety Initiative.
The NLRB will be looking to improve its efficiency in handling cases over the next four years, according to its Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2019 to 2022.
In a mixed opinion, a federal appellate court has given new life to the Obama-era joint employment standard but also sent the case back to the NLRB which may give the labor board an opportunity to further chip away at the test.
A Silicon Valley software startup has agreed to pay $775,000 to settle an unfair labor practice claim filed by the NLRB on behalf of 15 former software engineers who had sought to organize.
The Kentucky Supreme Court has upheld the state's "right to work" law by a 4-3 vote, finding it does not discriminate against unions when compared to other organizations.
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that an Illinois village lacked authority under the NLRA to pass a right-to-work law. The decision creates a split with the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals and sets up a possible Supreme Court challenge.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has announced it is issuing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to redefine the standards for determining whether two or more employers are joint employers under federal labor law and thereby jointly liable for any labor law violations.
New federal court rulings are applying the Supreme Court's Epic Systems decision to prohibit employees from joining collective actions in a host of situations, including in a recent case against Chipotle.
Missouri voters delivered a big win to organized labor in rejecting a "right to work" law by a 2-to-1 margin. The prospective law would have barred private-sector unions from requiring workers to pay dues as a condition of employment.
Updated to reflect development relating to Missouri's right to work status.
HR and legal considerations for employers regarding the management of labor relations. Support and guidance on the ever growing field of labor law.