National Labor Relations Law

The National Labor Relations Act is the primary law governing relations between unions and employers in the private sector.

The act guarantees the right of employees to organize, to join or form a labor organization, to bargain collectively with their employer through a chosen representative, or to refrain from such activity.

It establishes procedures for the selection of employee representatives, regulates the collective bargaining process, and provides a framework for remedying unfair labor practices.

The NLRA generally applies to all employers involved in interstate commerce–other than airlines, railroads, agriculture, and government.

Many employers mistakenly believe that the NLRA only covers union activity, and that they need not be concerned with the NLRA unless they have a union or an organizing campaign.

The NLRA, however, protects the right of employees to engage in concerted activities for mutual aid and protection, and its coverage therefore can extend to non-union employers and to employee conduct that is not expressly union-related.

The National Labor Relations Board is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1935 to administer the NLRA.

The NLRB resolves representation disputes, conducts representation elections, and investigates and hears unfair labor practice charges.

In addition, the NLRB must seek injunctions in federal court against unions engaging in secondary boycotts and may seek injunctive relief against an employer engaging in an unfair labor practice if the employer’s conduct threatens the remedial purpose of the NLRA.

State Labor Relations Law

Connecticut also has a State Labor Relations Act that, like the NLRA, is intended to equalize the bargaining power of employers and employees by supporting collective bargaining, and regulating employer/employee relations by identifying and remedying unfair labor practices.

The rights afforded by the SLRA are similar to those provided by the NLRA. The State Board of Labor Relations enforces the SLRA.

Coverage of the SLRA is limited in scope.

It does not cover any employer subject to the NLRA, unless the NLRB declines jurisdiction over the employer (which most commonly occurs where the employer has little or no involvement with interstate commerce, such as a small and/or primarily local employer).

In addition, the SLRA does not apply to: (1) employees or state or local governments or agencies who are covered by the Connecticut Municipal Relations Act; (2) members of religious orders; (3) agricultural workers; (4) domestic workers; (5) individuals employed only for the duration of a labor dispute; or (6) persons employed by their parents, spouses or children.

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