Organizing Frequently Asked Questions:
Do I have rights and protections if I want to join a union?
Section 7 of the National Relations Act states: "Employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representation of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining...'
What does this mean for you?
Quite simply, it means that under federal law you have the right to join and support a labor union and to:
Attend meetings to discuss joining a union.
Read, distribute and discuss union literature so long as you do this in non-work areas and at non-work times such as during breaks and lunch hours.
Wear union buttons, T-shirts, stickers, hats, or other items on the job.
Sign petitions or file grievances related to wages, hours, working conditions, and other job issues.
Solicit other employees to support the union and to sign cards authorizing the union to speak for them, on your own lime, when you and your co-workers are on break and in a break room.
Section 8 of the National Labor Relations Act states: "It shall be unfair labor practice for an employer...to interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed in Section 7.''
How is my job protected?
Employers are legally forbidden from doing the following:
Punishing and or discriminating against any worker because of union activities. 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 condition.
Threaten to or actually fire you, lay you off, discipline you or reassign you based on union activities.
Shut down the work site or take away any benefits or privileges employees already enjoy in order to discourage union activities.
Promise employees a pay increase, promotion or other benefit in exchange for opposition to a union.
How can I enforce my rights?
The best way to encourage your employer to recognize your union and negotiate a fair contract is to build a strong organization where you work.
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.
Including what was said or done, who was involved, where and when it happened, and the names of any witnesses.
If your employer violates the law, the union can help you file "unfair labor practice" charges with the National Labor Relations Board. The Labor Board has the power -backed up by the federal courts - to order an employer to stop interfering with employee rights, to provide back pay, and to reverse any action taken against workers for union activity.
Who runs the union?
Your employer will try to convince you that "the union" is some group of outsiders, trying to come in and "disturb the family atmosphere" and dictate what goes on in the workplace. The truth is that you and your co-workers are the union-you elect your own officers and decide what you want your union to do by a democratic process.
What about union dues?
Most likely your employer will try to persuade you not to go union by telling tall tales about the union dues you'll be required to pay. It takes money to run any organization. The company doesn't want you to pay dues because they know that with your own organization you can have better wages and benefits and an equal voice on the job. Many union members refer to dues as "job insurance."
And what about strikes?
Probably the scariest thing you'll hear about unions is that they are always going out on strike and that you may be forced to go on strike. The truth is that 99% of all union contracts are settled without any sort of work stoppage at all. And you and your co-workers, because you control your union, are the only ones who can vote to strike or not to strike.