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AFL-CIO Now

NLRB Website Outlines Rights of Nonunion Workers to Act Together

Even if workers are not in a union, they have the right to act together to improve their working conditions and for other mutual aid and protection. A new website by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) explains those rights and tells workers how to contact the nearest NLRB office if they have questions or believe their rights have been violated.

The website (click here) includes the stories of more than a dozen recent cases involving protected concerted activity. The cases include a construction crew fired after refusing to work in the rain near exposed electrical wires; a customer service representative who lost her job after discussing her wages with a co-worker; and an engineer at a vegetable packing plant fired after reporting safety concerns affecting other employees and several others.  

Some cases were quickly settled after charges were filed while others progressed to a board decision or had to be enforced in federal court.

NLRB Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce says, “A right only has value when people know it exists.”

We think the right to engage in protected concerted activity is one of the best kept secrets of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)—and more important than ever in these difficult economic times. Our hope is that other workers will see themselves in the cases we’ve highlighted and understand that there is strength in numbers.

The NLRB has initiated other efforts to inform nonunionized workers about their rights under the law (NLRA), including a requirement that employers post a Notice of Employee Rights. This one-page notice would inform workers at both unionized and nonunionized workplaces about their rights under the NLRA. But this simple requirement has been challenged by employer groups, including the National Association of Manufacturers, who are trying to block implementation of the posting rule.  

Find out more from the AFL-CIO about your rights at work here, and learn more about how to form or join a union here

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