The right of employees in the private sector to unionize is something that business owners cannot ignore. Unionization can sometimes affect a business negatively; however, it does not have to in all situations. Business owners should be familiar with the basics of their employees’ rights to unionize.
Most private employees are covered by the National Labor Relations Act, which allows private employees to form or join unions and participate in union activity. This law covers various employees whose employers engage in interstate commerce that brings in a certain amount in revenue every year.
If you are the owner of a small business that conducts its business entirely in Illinois, without conducting any Internet sales, then the issue of private employee unionization under the National Labor Relations Act is not likely to affect you. The Illinois Labor Relations Act mainly applies to public employees who are not covered under the National Labor Relations Act.
There are a range of other employees who are not covered under the National Labor Relations Act—for example employees who are employed by a spouse or parent or those who work in the agricultural sector as laborers. Supervisors are generally not covered under the National Labor Relations Act, except if they are fired for refusing to violate the act—for example, refusing to discipline an employee for participating in union activities. Independent contractors are also not covered.
Employees who engage in certain activities without being part of a union are also protected under the federal law. If two or more employees engage in concerted activity aimed at improving workplace conditions or improving their pay, the employees cannot be fired for participating in these activities. If one employee approaches the employer as a representative of the other employees to express the concerns of other employees, the employer cannot fire that employee for engaging in that activity.
Employees also have a right to not join the union or engage in union activities, and although the employee may be required to pay some dues to the union, the employee should not be pressured to join the union. Fair share dues usually apply to public sector employees and are used to cover the costs incurred by the union in representing non-union members. Employers should note that under federal law, employees cannot be forced to pay to support a political cause they do not believe in, even if it is part of their union dues.
Contact an Experienced Business Attorney
If you are a small business owner and you are seeking guidance on this issue and other employee related issues that face your business, contact a skilled DuPage County business law attorney with experience in employment law at Momkus McCluskey Roberts, LLC for a consultation today. We are eager to assist you throughout each step of your case.