The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has launched a webpage that describes the rights of employees to act together to improve their pay and working conditions or fix job-related problems, even if they are not in a union.
The page tells the stories of more than a dozen recent cases involving protected concerted activity, which can be viewed by clicking points on a map. Among the cases:
- a construction crew fired after refusing to work in the rain near exposed electrical wires
- a customer service representative who lost her job after discussing her wages with a coworker
- an engineer at a vegetable packing plant fired after reporting safety concerns affecting other employees
- a paramedic fired after posting work-related grievances on Facebook
- poultry workers fired after discussing their grievances with a newspaper reporter
Some cases were quickly settled after charges were filed, while others progressed to a Board decision or to federal appellate courts. They were selected to show a variety of situations, but they have in common a finding at some point in the NLRB process that the activity that the employees undertook was protected under federal labor law.
The right to engage in certain types of concerted activity was written into the original 1935 National Labor Relations Act's Section 7, which says that employees have the right to "engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection, and shall also have the right to refrain from any or all such activities."
That right has been upheld in numerous decisions by appellate courts and by the U.S. Supreme Court over the years. Non-union concerted activity accounts for more than 5% of the agency's recent caseload.