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Which rights are protected under Section 7?
For employees, the most fundamental section of the NLRA is Section 7, which details their specific right to access power in the workplace:
"Employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection, and shall also have the right to refrain from any or all of such activities"
The ability to engage or not engage in these actions is protected in the NLRA and enforced by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). From the concerted activity that comes when starting a union to the collective bargaining that improves workers' conditions, the NLRA spells out these rights.
Learn More About Starting A Union
Essential Details of Section 7
Concerted activity is a legally protected class of actions when two or more workers act together to better their pay or working conditions. For example, if a group of employees discusses unsafe working conditions or low pay, this is a protected concerted activity. Under the NLRA, an employer is not permitted to fire, threaten, or take disciplinary action against you for concerted activity.
The right to form a union is the core right of Section 7. If a majority of employees desire to join a union and express their desire through supporting signatures, the NLRB will conduct an election of all employees. If the workers vote in favor of the union, the NLRB will certify the union as the representative of the workers. This step is essential for the conduct of collective bargaining to improve workplace conditions.
Collective bargaining is the negotiation between a union representative and an employer regarding working conditions. These negotiations aim to reach a contract that changes terms like pay, benefits, and safety conditions in the workplace. The NLRA ensures these negotiations are held in good faith and make the contract binding.
Recognizing these actions in the workplace requires an understanding of how they appear from company to company, better described in Section 8 of the NLRA.
How Do I Find More Examples of my Section 7 Rights?
Section 8 details the violations of the Section 7 rights, formally known as "unfair labor practice charges." Some examples of where your employer would be violating your Section 7 rights would be:
Giving employees benefits during a union drive to encourage their vote against forming a union
Threatening employees with consequences if they support or participate in a union
Prohibiting employees from talking about a union during working hours
Spying on employees' union efforts — something out of the ordinary to observe union activity
Firing employees who participate in concerted activity
Preventing employees from wearing union symbols like t-shirts, hats, buttons
Interviewing workers to build a case against unfair labor practices
These are just a few examples of unfair labor practices described in Section 8 and are fully detailed on the NLRB website. It is important to understand the extent of these rights as described in the NLRA. Unfortunately, employers commonly violate these rights, so knowing your rights is essential for fair treatment.