As an employer, you may shy away from training on the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), but that’s generally a bad idea. Your employees have a right to know this information, and you might benefit from an honest discussion as well. Helping employees understand their rights under the National Labor Relations Act can actually help you stay union-free in two very specific ways.
First, union organizers love to throw around the idea that forming a union is a right protected by the National Labor Relations Act – which is, of course, completely true. But a strong, union-proof workforce also knows that the law protects their right to NOT form a union. By educating employees on this one simple fact, you can simply and elegantly support employee efforts to remain union-free.
As powerful as that idea is, diminishing your NLRA training’s impact to just that would be short-sighted. The NLRA discussion is important for a variety of reasons. All your workers have employee rights under the NLRA, and they deserve to know what those rights are, which brings me to the second way NLRA training can help you remain union-free. By informing employees of their rights yourself, you create an open dialogue and level of trust with your employees that they wouldn’t ordinarily have. By helping them understand their rights, you’re showing them that you’re on their side, and genuinely have their best interests in mind. Plus, you’re letting them know that you aren’t scared of unions, though you can certainly let them know about your union-free views if you so choose.
So, what rights do your employees have under the NLRA? For one, they can organize a union to discuss terms of employment, including wages. They are free to form a union, join an existing union or assist a union. They can bargain themselves or via representatives about hours, wages and other concerns. They may also strike or picket under certain conditions. Most importantly, they can also opt out of all of these activities. Under the NLRA’s Section 7 rights, it is illegal for either the employer or the union to threaten or harass employees for any reason. Your employees should know these rights and understand them.
Beyond a preventive approach, when you receive a petition for an election from a union, you should immediately begin educating your employees about their rights under the NLRA. Because of the new “ambush election” laws, you may only have about two weeks to speak to your employees before a secret ballot election is held. This short period of time is the only opportunity you’ll have to speak to your employees about the effects of unionization, so use the time wisely.
If you’re worried about the possibility of a union, try talking to your employees about the NLRA. By starting a frank, honest discussion, they’ll see you as an ally, which will make your company – and your workforce – that much more union proof.