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Georgia 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 that it supersedes state law in the areas that 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.
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Like many states, Georgia has no comprehensive labor relations law of its own. The federal protections are the governing law of the state for private employees engaged in interstate commerce. There is more on these protections. The following is a discussion of certain provisions of Georgia law regarding the rights of employees not covered by the NLRA.
Federal law applies only to private employment. Each state must decide on its own whether and to what extent to protect public employees. Georgia has a law that protects firefighters' rights to organize and bargain collectively (GA Code Sec. 25-5-4). All public employees, including firefighters, are forbidden to strike (GA Code Sec. 45-19-2). Public employees who engage in a strike risk losing, among other things, their jobs, their civil service status, their seniority, and their eligibility for reappointment to state jobs (GA Code Sec. 45-19-4).
Another area that has been left to the states is the protection of a worker's right to join or not to join a union. Like many states, Georgia has a law that protects this right. The Georgia law makes it a misdemeanor to fire an employee or deny a person a job because of membership or nonmembership in a ...

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