Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Seemingly Unstoppable Violation of Labor Law

Labor laws, I would like to believe, are there to lessen the immense power of employers. Without this great body of laws, employees will always be at the mercy of their money-hungry employers (kindly pardon the word). Without this great body of laws, slavery will persist. Albeit in a modern kind of form.

However, exactly because of the power that employers possess over the employees, many cases of labor law violations still cannot be circumvented. The law tried to deal with this by addressing the relationship between employers and the union. It recognizes the employees’ right to unionize and allow employers and employees to engage in strike, picketing, lockouts, seek injunctions, etc.

With this as a guiding principle, the Congress enacted in 1935 the National Labor Relations Act under its constitutional power to regulate intestate commerce. The law governs the employer-employee bargaining and union relationship on a national level. Under the same law, the National Labor Relations Board was established to:
  • hear disputes between employers and employees arising under the Act
  • to determine which labor union will represent employees unit
The NLRA makes it illegal for employees to interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of rights relating to organizing, forming, joining, or assisting a labor organization for collective-bargaining purposes, or engaging in protected concerted activities or refraining from any such activity.

It is an unlawful conduct to threaten employees with loss of jobs, loss of benefits and plant closure if they join union or even just to engage in protected concerted activity. In addition, your employer cannot question you about union sympathies or activities.

Promising benefits to employees to discourage union support, transferring, laying off, terminating, assigning employees more difficult work task, are also prohibited acts.

Despite such laws, as already intimidated above, there are still violations. Are our laws not enough? Or are laws really made to be violated? One can only surmise that may be, the problem is in the system; that may be, the seemingly unstoppable violation of labor laws can be stopped after all.

I know someone out there agreed to me on this. I know someone knew the answers. Respect the laborers. We work to live; we do not live to work.