Employees may organise into unions and bargain collectively with their employers. Or they may voluntarily decide not to organise into unions and bargain individually instead. To establish union representation, workers need to complete a series of steps. One step involves determining which employees should be represented together. Within a unionized company, any group of employees whose employment contract is negotiated together is called a bargaining unit. It is common for workers in the same department to be in the same bargaining unit. In other instances, persons doing similar work in different departments may be in the same bargaining unit. For example, all the drivers working for XYX Limited might be in the same bargaining unit. Sometimes one union represents several bargaining units in negotiating with a single employer. Each unit is entitled to select its own union to bargain with the employer.
Managerial employees are not permitted to vote or to be represented by a union. This is because their duties differ from those of the non-managerial employees whom they direct. Moreover, the company owners should be able to rely on the undivided loyalty of their managers in negotiations with unions. Whether or not they are union members, all workers in each bargaining unit are bound by the collective agreement reached between the union and the employer.
Laws require that management engage in good-faith negotiations (i.e., collective bargaining) with unions. These laws define certain actions of employers as unfair labour practices and prohibit such actions. The following are unfair labour practices.
• It is unfair labour practice for management to interfere with employees’ effort to form, join, or assist unions. Such interference can take a variety of forms. For example, it would be an unfair labour practice to refuse to deduct union dues for union members, to disrupt organizing meetings, or to threaten to fire employees to keep them from organizing a union. Similarly, employers may not threaten to stop operations, replace worker with machines, or move the factory just to avoid unionization.
• It is unfair labour practice for management to dominate a union or to give it financial or other support. This preserves the ability of unions to represent the interest of employees. Sometimes, companies want the least aggressive unions to win. Other times they try to win favour with union leaders by contributing money to their election campaigns.
• It is an unfair labour practice for management to encourage or to discourage union membership. Employers may not threaten to blacklist employees. Employers blacklist employees by placing their names on a list of pro-union persons and sending it to other employers with the purpose of making it difficult for the employees to find work. Similarly, it is an unfair labour practice to discharge or otherwise discriminate against an employee for filing charges of labour law violations or for testifying about such charges.
• It is an unfair labour practice for management to refuse to bargain in good faith with the union. This means management must participate actively in attempting to reach an agreement. It must make honest and reasonable proposals and must listen to the arguments of the union. However, the law does not require that management agree to union proposal; it need only engage in good-faith bargaining.
What Are Unfair Labour Practices By Unions?
Laws require that unions treat management and employees fairly. The actions described below are unfair labour practices by unions.
• It is an unfair labour practice for unions to refuse to bargain collectively in good faith with the employer.
• It is an unfair labour practice for unions to attempt to force an employer to pay for featherbedding. Featherbedding is payment for service not performed. If the work is performed, there is no featherbedding even though the work may be unnecessary.
• It is unfair labour practice for uncertified unions to picket (i.e., patrol the employer’s property with signs) to try to force the employer to bargain with that union. Certifying elections are the appropriate method for compelling an employer to bargain with a particular union.
• It is unfair labour practice for unions to engage in certain kinds of strikes and boycotts. A strike is a work stoppage by a group to force an employer to give in to union demands. (Its counterpart is a lockout, which occurs when an employer temporarily closes down operations to induce the union to agree to the employer’s proposal) Most strikes are legal if they are conducted without violence.
• It is an unfair labour practice for unions to require payment of an excessive or discriminatory fee for initiation into the union.
• It is an unfair labour practice for unions to force or to attempt to force employees to support that union or to restrain employees from supporting competing unions. A union may, however, try to persuade employees to support it.
• It is an unfair labour practice for unions to cause or to attempt to cause an employer to discriminate against an employee because of union related activities.
Source : Independent