California Unions laws & HR compliance analysis

California 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, California 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. The following is a discussion of certain provisions of California law regarding the rights of employees not covered by the NLRA.
Federal law applies only to private employment. Each state may decide on its own whether and to what extent to protect public employees. California's Meyers-Milias-Brown Act (MMBA) gives local public employees the right to unionize (CA Gov. Code Sec. 3502-3511). Public employees also have the right to refuse to join or participate in the activities of employee organizations and have the right to represent themselves individually in their employment relationship with the public agency. Police officers and other law enforcement personnel are covered by the protections for public employees, except that their employers may limit them to membership in unions made up exclusively of law enforcement officers (CA Gov. Code Sec. 3508).
Firefighters. Firefighters have the right to organize and bargain collectively; they are prohibited from striking (CA Labor Code Sec. 1962).
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