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Labor Laws - Right-To-Work, Unions & Union Membership

Written by Staff Writer

Unions are an important part of many industries in the U.S. economy. Below are a few key things to know about right-to-work, unions, and union membership labor laws.

Understanding Unions

Labor unions have a lot of history in the U.S. and are generally defined as organizations that protect members' interests regarding wages, hours and conditions. Unions elect officers to make decisions on members' behalf, and it is illegal for employers to prohibit unionization among employees. Union members must pay dues to remain as a part of the union in exchange for collective bargaining power that sometimes escalates to worker strikes.

You can learn more about what unions do related to specific issues important to your work on the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) website.

Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act

Established in 1959, the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA) and the Landrum-Griffin Act address the relationship between unions and their members. LMRDA protects union funds and requires labor organizations to file reports about finances, labor relations practices, and the standards for electing union officers. The Office of Labor Management Standards administers this act at the federal level. LMRDA covers unions, union employees and officers, union members and employers, labor relations consultants, surety companies, and union interested trusts.

Unions represent many kinds of professionals, including teachers, factory workers, police officers, government workers, plumbers, and engineers. The following industries have unions:

  • Agriculture and Forestry
  • Building and Construction Communications
  • Defense and Munitions
  • Education
  • Entertainment
  • Finance Sector
  • Hospitality
  • Manufacturing
  • Maritime
  • Medicare and Healthcare
  • Miners
  • Public Sector
  • Retail
  • Sex Worker
  • Sports
  • Transportation

It gives each union member the right to:

  • To nominate candidates
  • To vote in elections or referendums
  • To attend membership meetings
  • To participate in deliberations and to vote upon such meetings' business
  • To assemble and meet with other members freely
  • To express views, arguments, or opinions, and to express views at meetings about candidates