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READING 4 ZIGARELLI. CAN THEY DO THAT?: UNIONS After publicly firing three employees who started the drive for a union, the plant manager made an announcement. "I'll tell you what unions are all about!" the manager roared over the loudspeaker. "They're about striking, picketing, boycotts, violence, and corruption! They'll bleed a company dry and then, like your three disloyal friends here, none of you will have a job! If you know what's good for you, you'll tell this union to go to hell on election day!" Unions are struggling to maintain both their membership and their reputation these days. It seems that the only time they attract any press is when they appear to be functioning contrary to the public interest. There's certainly more to the story though. Unions came into existence to protect workers from gross mistreatment by their employers, and to this day they generally work hard to protect members from exploitation and poverty. If you're in a union, you probably know what I'm talking about. High wages, good benefits, reasonable hours, job security, fair treatment-you may have them all. Employment at will is a foreign concept to you because you have a written contract that clearly spells out the conditions for dismissal. But others of you may be dissatisfied with your union. Maybe you had to join and are required to pay dues against your wishes. Maybe you think the union treats you with less respect than your company ever did. Opinions on this point tend to vary greatly. No matter what your opinion, it's essential that you know your rights. Even if you're not covered by a union contract, you should still be familiar with the law that allows you to join a union. This chapter advises you on your rights to organize a union, to participate in union activity, and to refrain from such activity. Labor Law Government regulation of the relationships among companies, unions, and union members is called "labor law." The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and its later amendments provide the federal framework for labor law in the private sector. Public employees are not protected by the NLRA but instead by individual state laws (described later). Similarly, the NLRA excludes supervisors, managers, agricultural workers, domestic servants, independent contractors, and those covered by another labor law, the Railway Labor Act (for railroad and airline employees), from its coverage. If you don't fit into one of these categories, chances are that the NLRA protects your right "to form, join, or assist labor organizations . .. and to refrain from any and all such activity." What specific rights does the NLRA offer you? The law says that your company cannot fire you, discipline you, or discriminate against you in any way for joining a union or for attempting to get a union to represent you and your coworkers. In other words, you have the right to start a union organizing drive and to solicit support from your fellow workers. If there's a significant amount of support for the union in your company, the union will ask the National Labor Relations Board
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This note was uploaded on 02/26/2012 for the course MGMT 3680 taught by Professor Harrywater during the Winter '12 term at CSU East Bay.

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