The Legal Right for Workers to form Unions

What Are My Rights?

Your rights under the National Labor Relations Act of 1935:

It is your right to support, form and/or advocate a union at your workplace.  Your rights to organize are set forth in section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act:

"Employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection..."

This means that you have the legal right to help organize, to join, and to support a union of your own choosing. This includes but is not limited to such activities as:

  • filling out an authorization card
  • getting others to fill out cards
  • attending union meetings
  • wearing union buttons
  • passing out union literature
  • talking about the union to other employees.

Under Section 8 of the National Labor Relations Act, your employer cannot punish you for your union activity. For example, your employer cannot legally do the following:

  • Threaten to or actually fire, lay off, harass, transfer or reassign employees because they support the union.
  • Favor employees who don't support the union over those who do in promotions, job assignments, wages, hours, enforcement of rules, or any other working conditions.
  • Shut down the work site or take away any benefits or privileges employees already enjoy in order to discourage union activity.
  • Promise employees a pay increase, promotion, benefit or special favor if they oppose the union.

Enforcing Your Rights

The best way to encourage your employer to recognize Local 1189 and negotiate a fair contract is to build a strong organization where you work.

If your employer violates the law, Local 1189 can help you file "unfair labor practice" charges with the National Labor Relations Board. The Labor Board has the power to order an employer to stop interfering with employees rights, to provide back pay, and to reverse any action taken against workers for union activity. Decisions made by the Labor Board are court enforced to provide teeth to the Act.

You can help protect your legal rights by:

  • Keeping written notes of any incidents in which company officials or supervisors threaten, harass or punish workers because of union activity.
  • Immediately reporting any such incidents to your organizing committee and the union staff.