Pennsylvania 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. The federal protections are the governing law of the state for private employees engaged in interstate commerce. 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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Pennsylvania has adopted several provisions, known as the Labor Relations Act, to supplement the federal guarantees. This Act extends to workers not covered by the federal law the right to organize and bargain collectively. It also sets strict criteria for the conduct of union activities. The Act does not cover hospitals, charitable institutions, and nonprofit social clubs. In addition, the Act does not protect the rights of individuals working for their parent or spouse, agricultural laborers, and domestic workers. Except for public utility employees and certain workers in the public sector, all Pennsylvania employees have the right to strike (PA Stat. Tit. 43 Sec. 211.1et seq.).
One area that has been left to the states is the protection of a worker's right not to join a union. Many states have a so-called “right-to-work” law that prohibits compulsory union membership. Pennsylvania is not among them. Pennsylvania recognizes and will enforce union contracts calling for union shops (in which new hires must join the union within some specified period of time) and similar union ...

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