The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) is the main federal law that governs relations between unions and employers. An independent federal agency, the National Labor Relations Board, was created to oversee the NLRA, which was intended to help curtail strikes and other forms of labor unrest. Among the rights this law guarantees are employees' rights to organize and to bargain as a group with their nongovernment employers.
The NLRA establishes employees' rights to organize themselves into unions. Workers can form unions, or they can join, picket, go on strike with, or otherwise help existing labor groups. They can also bargain as a unit with employers. Employees also have the right to decline to participate in these activities, except for the case of jobs where union membership is a requirement for employment. The NLRA also protects workers from unfair activity by labor unions. Unions may not coerce employees into joining, or into participating in strikes, for instance.
It is illegal for an employer to interfere with, control, or financially support any labor organization. Employers must allow competing unions equal access to their workforce. Employers cannot refuse to negotiate with union representatives.
Examples of employer violations include the following:
Violations may also be committed by labor organizations. Possible union violations include labor officials threatening employees with job loss if they don't support the union's activities.
If you believe you are a victim of unfair labor practices, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recommends contacting an information officer at the regional NLRB office nearest you. The officer can help you file an unfair labor practices charge. Charges must be filed within 6 months of the alleged violation of the NLRA.
Workers seeking to form or decertify (end) a union must file a petition with the NLRB regional office that has jurisdiction over their workplace. An information officer at the regional office can answer questions about how to complete petition forms. Generally, you will need the dated signatures of 30 percent of the affected employees to form or decertify a union to demonstrate support for the petition.