The purpose of a labor union is to legally represent the individual worker through collective bargaining. These organizations negotiate wages and benefits, fight to improve workplace conditions, lobby the government and represent employees involved in contract disputes. While the labor scene in America has shifted drastically over the past few decades, all employers should know where they stand.
Where Did Unions Come From?
Unions are a product of the industrial revolution, when people worked in hazardous and often fatal conditions. The American Federation of 1886 initiated dozens of strikes in favor of workers, quickly garnering power at the federal level. Unions were a key topic of Roosevelt’s New Deal, and they drew in a lot of democratic support through the first part of the 20th century. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) of 1935 promotes collective bargaining between worker and employer. It protects rights and prohibits activities that threaten the welfare of businesses, employees and the economy.
New Deal politics drove the nation until the 1960s, but have since lost momentum. Today, most labor unions in America belong to one of two parent organizations.
Can Your Employees Unionize?
Unions have the power to shut down operations and force higher wages. Many business owners fear that they might lose control if their employees unionize. If you’re a small business owner, it’s probably unlikely that your workforce will start a union. However, it’s not impossible. Should it happen, the NLRA prohibits you from doing any of the following.
Simply put, you cannot discriminate or treat union employees differently than you treat your nonunion staff. Here’s what you legally can do.
Organized labor has lost speed since the industrial revolution because the economy is moving toward technology and information. Even still, unions remain powerful in heavy industries where manual laborers are exposed to hazards. If you run a digital marketing startup, you probably don’t have much to worry about. Nonetheless, all business owners should be aware of the labor laws that affect their industries.
The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.