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Do All Workers Have the Right to Unionize?

April 11, 2022

Forming unions is not illegal. Irrespective of your job or industry, you can form a union or join one legally. You don’t have to belong to a specialized industry or make a certain amount of money to exercise this right. But a Chicago employment rights attorney will tell you that some employees are exempt to prevent conflicts of interest.

Employees Who Cannot Legally Form a Union

Some employees that cannot form legally-protected unions in the state or the nation include those whose role compromises their ability to negotiate fairly with their employers. These include:

Managers and Supervisors

Employees responsible for managing and supervising employees on behalf of their employers cannot join unions. This includes those who have to make critical business decisions based on their judgment such as:

  • Directing employees, reassigning jobs, or changing workflows.

  • Making employment decisions (hiring, promoting, or firing).

While you can join a union if you are a supervisor or a manager, doing so will not be in your or the company’s best interests. It will just blur the line between worker and employer and also weaken the union against retaliatory action.

Confidential Employees

An employee who has to aid in personal labor issues is ineligible for unions since they are essential in a brand's bargaining potential. The National Labor Relations Board’s Guide for Hearing Officers includes people who determine, make, and effectuate management policies.

Employees That Are Employed By a Spouse or Parent

These employees are not protected under union rules because of conflicts of interest between them and their family employers.

Legal Union Activity

Besides those mentioned above, any employee has the right to form a union if there is none available at their workplace. Their rights include:

  • Joining a union whether their employer recognizes it or not.

  • Creating or attempting to create a union in the workplace.

  • Aiding anyone in their workplace in forming a union.

  • Possessing the right to be fairly represented by a union.

Rights Of Employees Who Are Not Union-Backed

If a union does not protect you, you still have some rights as per the NLRA. For instance, you can participate in some 'concerted activities,' i.e., when two or more employees take action for protection under certain employment conditions to protect themselves.

Single employees can also take part in protected activities under the authority of their colleagues by bringing specific complaints to their employer to drive group action.

Contact the Law Office of Michael T. Smith & Associates for a Consultation

Irrespective of the type of industry you work in or the job you have, you should be able to work every day without fear of harassment or hostility. If your employer is retaliating against you because you want to form a union or creating problems for an existing union, you need an experienced Chicago employment rights attorney.

This is where the Law Office of Michael T. Smith & Associates can prove invaluable. We have spent years representing employees like you who have been wrongfully fired or harassed in the workplace. Forming unions is your right. Get in touch with us for a consultation if that right has been violated.