Chapter 3: The Union Representation Process Under the National Labor Relations Act
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As part of our set of white papers on the reality of the American workplace I have covered "Chapter 1: The Truth About American Workers" and "Chapter 2: Is Unionization the Ticket to the Middle Class?" Now on to Chapter 3.
The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA): Maintaining Employee Free Choice for over 70 Years
The NLRA is an important federal law that is carefully designed, tested by time, and results in an accurate measure of employee sentiment regarding union representation, and should not be discarded. Congress’ intent of the Act is clear to not only to protect employees’ rights to join or not join a union, but to protect the country’s commerce as well.
After the original NLRA, also known as the Wagner Act, unions prospered and grew, often because employers were not legally allowed to persuade employees not to join a union. Twelve years after the Wagner Act, however, Congress sought to curb the growing influence, corruption, and physical violence that plagued union elections. A congressional committee report stated that many employees were forced to make payoffs to the union for a job, join a union against their will, or give money to causes or political campaigns they didn’t personally support.
In response to such problems, Congress passed the Taft-Hartley amendments, which guarantees employees have a right not to join a union, guarantees employers the right to express their views concerning unionization, and sets forth correlative union unfair labor practices.
The current NLRA, however, still provides unions more flexibility than employers by:
- allowing unions to set the time tables for unionization;
- not requiring any notice be given to employers as to when unionization may occur;
- giving the right to unions to freely make promises to employees regarding benefits resulting from representation; and
- permits unions to approach employers to sign neutrality agreements, which in reality are often products of a union’s corporate campaign against the company.