Private sector employees have the right to organize and join unions under federal labor law. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) is the federal law enacted in 1935 that governs the relationship between unions and private sector employers. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is the government agency charged with the administration and enforcement of the NLRA.
Section 7 of the NLRA protects the rights of employees (both union and nonunion) to form a union, and to engage in “concerted activity for mutual aid and protection.” In other words, employees have the right to engage in activity on behalf of or with one or more coworkers with the goal of improving working conditions. Examples of activity protected by Section 7 of the NLRA include:
Section 8 of the NLRA prohibits employers and unions from engaging in “unfair labor practices” or “ULPs.” That means it is illegal for employers to interfere with or restrain employees’ Section 7 rights. For example, it is illegal for employers to:
Unions can file charges against employers for engaging in unfair labor practices (ULP charges) within six months of the unlawful conduct.