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Employee rights under National Labor Relations Act

As many Michigan residents know, the National Labor Relations Act was enacted to provide certain rights allowing employees who are working in the private sector to claim employment benefits from their employers. Employees governed by the NLRA have the right to fight for improved working conditions and increased wages without forming a union.

Employee rights under the NLRA include forming or attempting to form a union at the workplace, joining a union which may or may not be recognized by the employer and helping a union to organize its members. Every employee under the NLRA has the right to be fairly represented by a union. An employee may also refuse to do any of the above mentioned activities, exercising their rights under the NLRA.

Under the NLRA, two or more employees can jointly take action for the mutual protection of their rights as per the terms of employment without forming a union. Even a single employee, acting with the authority of other employees, can engage in protected concerted activities. That employee can raise group complaints with the employer to try to induce group action. Such rights are protected by the National Labor Relations Board. Protected concerted activities may deal with issues regarding wages, safety measures at the workplace or improvement of working conditions.

The NLRA governs a majority of private sector employees, provided they are employed by someone covered by the definition of "employer" under the act. However, the act specifically excludes individuals employed as agricultural laborers, independent contractors and supervisors. The NLRA is also not applicable to people employed by a family for domestic services, or when they are employed by a parent or a spouse. Government employees and employees of people subject to Railway Labor Act are also exempted from the NLRA.

Source: www.NLRB.gov, "Employee Rights," accessed on Nov. 6, 2014

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