examples of unfair labor practices

The federal National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) tries to strike a balance between employee rights and the rights of employers.

In particular, the NLRA does not mandate that workers have unions, but it does allow workers to engage in concerted activity to improve their conditions of employment.

This concerted activity can take many forms, such as forming a union, joining a union, or engaging in other collective activity.

The NLRA also puts limits on unions and keeps them from dominating their membership. If workers no longer want a union, they can decertify the union or opt out.

Below, we provide some unfair labor practices examples you should be on the lookout for.

What are Examples of Unfair Labor Practices?

Examples of Unfair Labor Practices by Management

Historically, employers have tried to prevent employees from working together to improve pay, benefits, or working conditions. However, it is illegal for them to do the following:

  • Management cannot create its own union or dominate an existing union.
  • Management cannot interfere with the ability of employees to organize a union. For example, management cannot single out conversation about unions and treat it differently than any other non-employment conversation.
  • Management cannot discriminate against employees to keep them from starting or joining a union. For example, management cannot lay off, transfer, or reassign workers because they are engaging in protected concerted activity.
  • Management cannot retaliate against an employee who provides testimony to the National Labor Relations Board or files a complaint with them.

Another area of concern is collective bargaining. If employees form a union, then federal law requires that employers bargain in good faith.

Many employers refuse to bargain honestly, scheduling bargaining for unreasonable times or refusing to even consider the union’s demands.

The NLRA does not require that either side reach an agreement or offer concessions, but the law does require that each side make an honest attempt to bargain.

Unfair Labor Practices by Unions

Unions can also commit unfair labor practices and be sanctioned by the NLRB. There is also a long history of union intimidation and coercion.

The NLRA prohibits the following:

  • Unions cannot coerce workers into joining the union or staying in it. For example, unions cannot threaten a worker for exercising their right not to join.
  • Unions cannot start strikes for issues unrelated to the terms and conditions of employment.
  • Unions cannot charge excessive fees.
  • Unions cannot try to get employers to punish workers for them if they do not support or join a union
  • Unions cannot act as if they are the union for the workplace if they have not been properly certified.
  • Unions cannot commit misconduct on the picket line by assaulting or threatening workers who cross the picket line. Unions cannot tell an employer who should be its bargaining representative.

Unions must also likewise engage in good faith bargaining. For example, they cannot refuse to come to the bargaining table or refuse to listen to a proposal from management.

Filing a Complaint

If you believe that management or a union has engaged in an unfair labor practice, then you can file a complaint with the NLRB.

You have six months from the date of the incident to file the complaint with the federal agency.

How a California Labor Employer Can Help

Labor disputes can be particularly acrimonious, and individual workers often feel caught in the middle between an employer and union, neither of whom seems interested in trying to help. 

At the Workplace Rights Law Group, we represent workers in all sorts of employment disputes. If you have a question about your rights, then we want to hear from you.

One of our California attorneys is prepared to meet and answer any questions that you have. We offer a free, initial consultation, which you can schedule by calling us today.


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