The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is an agency that keeps an eye on unions and the companies who deal with them. I some cases one may have to file a charge against either union, the company, or both.
- THE UNION
When dealing with the union, the union has to give “Fair Representation” to the union members. The definition can be interpreted so many ways, but in general the union has an obligation to give you representation that is in your best interest. It is understandable when members complain about the representation they receive from their shop steward or business agent. One must remember there is a difference between fair representation and bad representation. Bad representation is exactly that. The remedy is not filing an NLRB charge against the shop steward or business agent, the remedy is called ELECTIONS. Simply vote them out.
The second situation is fair representation. This is when a shop steward or business agent do not represent you in good faith. They may look out for the company in exchange for personal gain. Perhaps they have issues with you and represent you in a way that hurts you as a member. This is when a NLRB charge is necessary. The MOST important key in dealing with the situation, is knowing your rights as union member. It is not enough to know something is wrong, not knowing what is wrong can make it difficult to understand what wrong was done to you. Understanding some of the basic issue as far as the contract and your right as a union member is important.
- THE COMPANY
As union members, the company has to respect your rights as union members. Your activities as a union member are protected by the federal law. The union is not a group of friends who promise to protect each other. The union is a reconized entity that represents you as a individual. When you have legitimate issues, the union is there to represent you by addressing these issues with the compnay. If one wants to address the issues on their own, that is perfectly fine, but using a union representative is usually best, as they certain rights that allow them to deal with management on an equal basis.
Unfortunately, there are times, management will push the envelope as far as dealing with the union and union members. When this happens, then it is time to file a NLRB, if the company acts in an egregious manner towards a union member and/or the union by not respecting either in the manner they a tasked to in the first place. Understand the NLRB and how they function is important in filing charges. The charges usually take two days and the company will respond to you immediately after filing a charge. Like other agencies, it is illegal to retaliate against anyone who files charges.
As I mentioned with other sections, I do not enjoy filing charges, but will file charges when appropriate. I can not emphasize the importance of knowing the law and the contract before venturing off and filing charges. Filing with government agencies is serious business, but at the same time necessary at times in order to ensure the company understands the consequences of crossing the lines are far as the rights of union members.
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The New 804: 21st Century Approach to Unionism