Currently, only about twelve percent of American workers are part of labor unions, which have declined steadily since the early eighties. In essence, labor unions are organizations that represent the interests of large number of employees regarding employees issues, such as employer contract negotiations. In order to receive these protections, labor union workers adhere to the contract terms they negotiate with labor unions, and in addition, pay labor union initiation and membership fees.
The National Labor Relations Act of 1935, among other things, most notably created the following laws regarding labor unions, including:
Following the establishment of the NLRA, Congress faced numerous problems from union power struggles that threatened national security, including the food supply. In response, the LMRA of 1947, otherwise referred to as the Taft-Hartley Act, was established. The Act sought to restrain overzealous labor unions and restrict labor unions from:
In the third round of federal legislation over labor unions, Congress established another body of law balancing the power of labor unions, employers, and employees. Most notably from this act, an ethical code of conduct was established for employers, union officials, unions as a whole, and management consultants requiring fair dealing in all affairs
Within the realm of labor unions, there are segregated entities established around a bargaining unit of one group of workers that sometimes might be part of a larger labor union. Each state has specific laws regarding labor unions; however, three main types of union work situations have emerged.
In an open shop, a labor union essentially represents your bargaining unit. Members are not required to join, nor do they have to pay dues to the labor unit.
In states that have not passed right to labor work laws, labor unions may form an agency shop, which requires employees, regardless of membership status in the union, to pay labor union fees to work in a specific field. In addition, the union is required to represent employee issue interests in collective bargaining situations and other labor problems.
In union shops, workers are not required to join the union immediately at taking a job, but must do so after a grace period per your employment contract. Employers can only fire employees refusing to join a labor union if the labor union rejects your membership due to non-payment of dues or fees.