A brief understanding of The National Labor Relations Act

The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) is a pivotal workforce-related legislation of the US. Legislated way back in 1935, The National Labor Relations Act gives rights to employees in the private sector to form unions and work together for collective bargaining with employers seeking enhanced working conditions or pay. The National Labor Relations Act also gives employees the right to go on strike if necessary, subject to certain conditions.

Regulation of employee union behavior

The National Labor Relations Act was considered radical for its time not only for propagating its main intent relating to the labor force; it was considered a signal legislation also because it had a provision by which the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) could be created. The NLRB allows for the conduct of elections by which office bearers of employee labor unions who engage in collective bargaining on behalf of the employees with the employers get elected.

Pillars of The National Labor Relations Act

The National Labor Relations Act is built on two pillars: Collective bargaining and unfair labor practices. These functions also constitute the central nature of work of The National Labor Relations Act.

a. Employee collective bargaining power

The core of The National Labor Relations Act is the elimination of the difference in bargaining powers between employees employed in the organized, professional cadre who have freedom of expression to vent their grievances with their employees and those who are employed in sectors that do not have these features.

Taking into consideration the fact of the lack of freedom of expression for employees in the unorganized sector; The National Labor Relations Act strengthened the power of labor in this sector to organize collective bargaining between the workforce and the employers, as well as trade unions.

b. Unfair labor practices

The National Labor Relations Act has elaborate descriptions of what constitutes unfair labor practices and puts in place mechanisms to remedy them. Broadly, unfair labor practices relate to discrimination, offering of low pay, preventing the employee the freedom to work by harassing or interfering or trying to deny an employee membership of a trade union.

Functions relating to enforcement

The National Labor Relations Act has two fundamental functions relating to the enforcement of its core areas:

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Employees exempted from The National Labor Relations Act

The National Labor Relations Act does not cover every employee across all the sectors in the US. Some types of employees are exempted from this Act. These are:

  • Employees that are covered by the Railway Labor Act
  • A few kinds of close relatives of individual employers
  • Employees employed in the agricultural sector
  • Employees in the federal, state or local governments
  • Supervisors
  • Independent contractors
  • Employees of individual households (domestic work)