The right to organize and join a union is, for most employees, a fundamental employment protection under federal and state “labor” laws. The labor law that covers your situation depends upon the kind of jobsite you work in (public vs. private, small, local business vs. larger corporation). A major benefit of union membership is that an employee who is covered by a union contract is no longer employed “at-will,” meaning that the employer no longer can fire the employee for any reason or for no reason at all. Unions also can negotiate with employers to obtain benefits, such as health care coverage, vacation and sick pay, and seniority, which employers are not otherwise legally required to provide. This Fact Sheet explains general principles of labor laws.2. What Kinds of Organizing Activity Are Protected?
Federal and state labor laws prohibit most employers from coercing, prohibiting, or otherwise interfering with employees’ protected organizing activities. Activities that are protected include:
The law forbids most employers from taking actions meant to discourage union activity. Your employer is violating the law if it:
If your employer takes action against you for organizing or joining a union, you can file an “Unfair Labor Practice” charge against the employer. California state and local government workers can file a chare with the Public Employees Relations Board. Other (private sector) workers can file a charge with the National Labor Relations Board. You should contact those agencies for information regarding the timing and procedure for filing the charge.