The state has relatively little say in the regulation of private labor unions. This is because most of the protections given to labor organizations are contained in the National Labor Relations Act, a federal law. This law is “preemptive;” that is, it overrides state law in the areas that it covers, which include almost all types of private employment. But in the areas it does not cover, such as the rights of public employees, farm workers and employees of businesses that do not engage in interstate commerce, the states are free to make their own provisions.
State law. The Hawaii Employment Relations Act supplements the federal guarantees. This law extends to many workers not covered by the federal law the right to organize and bargain collectively. It also sets rules for the conduct of union activities (HI Rev. Stat. Sec. 377-1 et seq.). Employees have the rights to unionize and collectively bargain, in addition to the right not to join a union (HI Rev. Stat. Sec. 377-4).
Streamlining union certification. Generally, a secret ballot election takes place to determine if a union will be the exclusive representative of employees in an appropriate bargaining unit. However, the state's labor law, the Hawaii Labor Relations Board (HLRB) must certify a union if a majority of workers in a unit sign authorization cards (HI Rev. Stat. Sec. 377-4.6). In addition, the law requires the parties to begin bargaining for a first contract within 10 days of the union's certification (HI Rev. Stat. Sec. 377-4.7).
Note: This law applies only to businesses that have an annual gross revenue of more than $5 million.