Illinois 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. The following is a brief discussion of Illinois law in areas not preempted by the NLRA.
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The federal labor law leaves to the states all questions involving the unionization of state and local government employees. The Illinois Public Labor Relations Act protects these workers' right to unionize and bargain collectively and regulates the conduct of union elections and the resolution of labor disputes. The law prohibits police officers and firefighters from engaging in a strike. Other public employees have the right to strike, but not before they have exhausted mandatory arbitration procedures. A strike by public employees can be halted by court order if the strike presents a clear and present danger to public health or safety (5 ILCS 315/1 et seq.).
School employees are granted the right to form labor organizations and to bargain collectively by the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act (115 ILCS 5/1et seq.). School employees in cities with a population of over 500,000 may strike in only limited circumstances. Also, the Illinois Supreme Court has held that picketing by school employees can be enjoined if it is done in support of an unlawful strike and interferes with the public ...

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