Let’s admit it. A huge salary is one of the biggest factors that we consider when looking for a job. However, other aspects can contribute to job satisfaction, including benefits, working hours, safety, opportunities for growth, etc. Salary doesn’t always guarantee happiness in the workplace.
What if you’re working too hard but not getting enough? Whether you are a warehouse worker, nurse, or fireman, 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 compensation, benefits, safety in their workplace, working hours, and holiday and leave. If they succeed, their employers give in to their demands. But if they fail, it can result in strikes or work cessations.
Unions function like democracies. They hold elections and elect officers who can make decisions and represent them. Though unions are not free and cause conflicts with your employers, they set workplace protections and wage standards. If you become unionized, here are some of the benefits you can get:
- Unions will protect your rights to work.
- Unions will help you defend your rights.
- Unions ensure 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 or Organize Labor Unions?
In the US, anybody can join or form a union except those who are tasked with managing other employees. People making major decisions in the company with their own judgment are also not allowed because they’re a part of the organization’s bargaining power, not employees.
- Confidential employees
- Employed by parents or spouse
- Domestic workers
- Agricultural workers
- Railway workers
In 2020, workers serving the public had joined unions more than the employees of the private sector. They’re usually city employees, government workers, police, and teachers. Most of them are older, male, and locals from the Midwest, Northeaster, and California.
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 organization of your choice. Under your right, you can perform 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 Organizing a Union?
If you fear that your employer will fire or punish you for joining or organizing a union, the NLRA, Section 8, protects you. In fact, they cannot even threaten, harass, transfer, or reassign you to other workplaces. Also, they are not allowed to shut down the worksite or remove the benefits and privileges of employees who support unions.
Moreover, they cannot favor employees who don’t join a union over those who do. For example, they can’t promise promotions, higher wages, special favors, and other benefits to those who oppose it.
Enforcing Your Rights
Building a solid organization in your workplace is the best way 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 your rights, you can file unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board.