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Collective Bargaining - National Labor Relations Act

nlra workers federal collectively

Congress passed the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) (29 U.S.C.A. §§ 151 et seq.) in 1935 to establish the right of workers to engage in collective bargaining and other group activities (§ 157). The NLRA also created the NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD (NLRB), a federal agency authorized to enforce the right to bargain collectively (§ 153). The NLRA has been amended several times since 1935, most notably in 1947, 1959, and 1974.

The NLRA governs labor relations for businesses involved in interstate commerce only; thus, it does not protect the collective bargaining interests of all categories of workers. Several classes of employers fall outside the NLRA, including those working for the U.S. government and its wholly owned corporations, states and their political subdivisions, railroads, and airlines. The NLRA also does not protect certain types of workers, such as agricultural workers, independent contractors, and supervisory and managerial employees. But other federal and state laws often provide protection for workers not covered under the NLRA. For example, federal government workers enjoy the right to bargain collectively under the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, which is patterned largely after the NLRA and enforced by the Federal Labor Relations Authority. Railroads and airlines are generally governed by the Railway Labor Act, the predecessor to the NLRA. Plus many states have adopted statutes similar to the NLRA that protect the rights of state and local government workers to bargain collectively.

Sections 8(a)(5) and 8(b)(3) of the NLRA define the failure to engage in collective bargaining as an unfair labor practice (29 U.S.C.A. § 158[a][5], [b][3]). The aggrieved party may file an UNFAIR LABOR PRACTICE charge with the NLRB, which has the authority to prevent or halt the performance of unfair labor practices (§ 160).

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