Let’s admit it. A huge salary is one of the most important factors that we consider when looking for a job. But other aspects can contribute to job satisfaction, including benefits, working hours, safety, opportunities for growth, etc. In other words, high pay doesn’t always guarantee happiness at work.
What if you’re working hard but not getting enough? Whether you belong to the warehousing industry or the education sector, you need a voice in your workplace. A labor union may be the best option.
What Exactly Is a Labor Union?
Simply put, a labor union is an organization of workers who unite 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. Failure can mean strikes or work stoppages.
Unions function like democracies. They hold elections to select officers who can make decisions and represent them. Though unions are not free, 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 Labor Unions?
In the US, anybody can join or organize a union except those who are tasked with managing other employees. People making major decisions in the company with their own judgment are also excluded since 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, the public sector unions increased the number of their members as opposed to the private sector. They’re usually city employees, state 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 form a labor union in your workplace. You can also assist labor organizations of your choice. Your right includes carrying out 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 Forming 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. 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.
On top of these, they cannot favor employees who don’t join a union over you. For instance, they can’t promise promotions, higher wages, special favors, and other benefits to those who oppose it.
Enforcing Your Rights
You need to build a solid organization in your workplace to encourage your employer to recognize your efforts and negotiate fair working conditions. Keep in mind that you are protected by the law when it comes to joining or forming a labor union. If they violate your rights, you can file “unfair labor practice” charges with the National Labor Relations Board.