Employers, Employees And Labor Unions Under National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)

About NLRA
NLRA stands for National Labor Relations Act. The law gives the employees the right to organize and form unions in order to bargain collectively for better terms and conditions at workplace. This law provides provisions for employees to ensure their own interests and welfare by engaging in certain welfare activities and putting their demands collectively before their employer.

A new or existing employee is free to join any union as per his choice and he cannot be forced to make a choice. He can even choose to stay without joining any union. Unions give employees a means to address their grievances and stand unitedly against any injustice or violation of interests.

The Law also accommodates features to ensure that none of the parties misuse the law and the vested powers by virtue of this law by providing the guidelines for each party. The elections of the labor unions and the grievance handling is done by a body called the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

The law is not applicable to the Federal, State and local government bodies and mostly applies to the private firms only. These laws do not cover railway employees, agricultural and individual employees and their close relatives.

Provisions and guidelines for the unions
As per the provisions of the NLRA, the workers can form a union for their collective interests. They can organize and collectively discuss among themselves for better wages, work hours and other welfare issues and later discuss and bargain them with the employers.

Employers in the from of unions can work collectively to enhance the working conditions of the workplace and improve it in terns of safety and convenience.

Every employee under the law has the right to join or form an union. They can also choose to assist any of the union without joining it. But it is not mandatory on the part of the employee to join an union. It depends completely on his will whether to join or avoid a union. He cannot be forced by some union members to join his union.

Same ways, unions cannot threaten an employee with loosing a job for not joining the union. This is illegal under the law for the union to force an employee. An union cannot discriminate an employee on the ground that he does not belong to his union and if such employee comes with a grievance, it is the duty of the union to address it. An union should also not try to influence the hiring process by making some undue and unjustified recommendations.

The law has been established that the employees address and bargain collectively in a good faith over genuine things. Undue demands and issues should not be promoted by the unions under the cover of the law. Hence, tough they can do strikes and picketing; they should ensure that the reason is worth doing it.

Guidelines for employers
The employer should be mindful and considerate about the rights and the welfare of the employees and should not try to discourage union and its activities. Hence an employer should not threaten, force or lure someone in form of bribes to discourage some union activity or to avoid joining some union. An employer cannot simply demote, fire or discriminate a person because he is indulging in some union activity. This is against the law. Similarly as an employer, you cannot hinder or stop any union activity that is happening at times other than work time. Spying and video graphing the union activities that are legitimate is also a violation to the act.

An employer should take the labor unions in good faith and heed their grievances and address them if they are justified. The employer is also protected by the same law for any inappropriate activity of the labor unions. Hence an employer need to have faith in the law and abide by his set of guidelines.

Complaint systems
Any act of discrimination or violation of the law should be brought to the notice of the federal agency NLRB within six months. The law stands for vested interests of the employees and gives enough protection to the employer against any unlawful or illegitimate demand of the union.