District of Columbia Unions: What you need to know

The right of workers in private employment to form unions and bargain collectively with their employers is guaranteed by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and related federal laws. The NLRA is preemptive, meaning it supersedes state law in the areas it covers. However, in areas not covered by the NLRA, such as the rights of public employees and the rights of private employees who are not engaged in interstate commerce, the states are free to make their own provisions. Since the District of Columbia has no comprehensive law in this area, the federal protections are the governing law of the District. There is additional information on these protections.
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Under the District of Columbia's Displaced Worker Protection Act (DWPA), when contractors and subcontractors with 25 or more employees take over a contract, they must retain covered employees of their predecessor for a 90-day transition period (DC Code Sec. 32-101et seq.). At the end of the 90-day transition period, the new contractor must provide a written performance evaluation for each covered employee. The new contractor has to offer continued employment to employees who receive satisfactory evaluations. Covered employees include those who are nonexempt under federal wage and hour laws; work 15 hours a week or more; and have been employed for 8 months or longer by the predecessor in food, janitorial, maintenance, or nonprofessional healthcare services.
The District of Columbia Circuit Court has ruled that the DWPA is not preempted by the NLRA (Washington Service Contractors Coalition v. District of Columbia, 54 F.3d 811 (D.C.Cir. 1995)). The court acknowledged that in some cases, contractors hiring employees of ...

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