Let’s be honest. A huge pay is one of the biggest factors that we consider when looking for a job. However, other factors can also contribute to job satisfaction, like benefits, working hours, workplace safety, opportunities for growth, etc. 

What if you devote yourself to the company but not getting enough? What if it impacts the quality of your life? Whether you are a warehouse worker or belong to the education sector, you need a voice in your workplace. A labor union may be the best option. 

What Exactly Is a Labor Union?

A labor union is an organization of workers who unite and engage in collective bargaining with their employers. They negotiate their concerns about their wage, benefits, safety in their workplace, working hours, and holiday and leave. If they succeed, their employers give in to their demands. If the latter refuse, it can lead to strikes or work stoppages. 

Unions’ function is compared to democracies. They hold elections and elect officers who can make decisions and represent them during negotiations. Though unions are not free, they work hard to establish workplace protections and wage standards. Here are a few of the advantages if you become unionized:

  • Unions will protect your rights to work.
  • Unions will help you defend your rights.
  • Unions make sure that you will have better retirement opportunities.
  • Unions can increase your negotiation power against your employer.
  • Unions can assist you in earning more.

Who Can Join Labor Unions?

In the US, anybody can join or form a union except managers. Also, people making major decisions in the company with their own judgment are not allowed because they’re a part of the organization’s bargaining power, not employees. 

Others are:

  • Confidential employees
  • Employed by parents or spouse
  • Domestic workers
  • Agricultural workers
  • Contractors
  • Railway workers

In 2020, public sector unions had an increase in their members as opposed to the private sectors. They’re usually city workers, government employees, police, and teachers. Most of them are older, male, and locals from the Midwest, Northeaster, and California.

Is It Legal to Join or Organize a Labor Union?

The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) of 1935, Section 7, says that you have a right to join or form a labor union in your workplace. You can also choose or assist any labor organization of your choice. Under your right, you can perform the following activities:

  • Attending union meetings
  • Wearing union buttons
  • Filling out an authorization card
  • Inviting others to fill out cards
  • Talking about the union with other workers
  • Handing out union literature

Can I Lose My Job for Joining or Forming a Union?

If you fear that you can get fired or punished by your employer for joining or organizing a union, the NLRA, Section 8, protects you. They cannot threaten, harass, transfer, or reassign you to other workplaces. Also, they cannot shut down the worksite or remove the benefits and privileges of employees who support unions.

On top of these, they cannot favor employees who don’t join a union over those who do, like you. For example, they are not allowed to promise promotions, higher wages, special favors, and other benefits to those who oppose it.

Enforcing Your Rights

Building a solid organization in your workplace is the best way to encourage your employer to recognize your hard work and negotiate a fair working contract. Remember that you are protected by the law when it comes to joining or organizing a labor union. If they violate your rights, you can file unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board.