San Antonio Labor Lawyer Protecting Texas Union Labor Workers

Union workers in hard hats clapping.

Navigating the complex landscape of Texas employment laws can be challenging for both employees and employers. Understanding your rights and responsibilities is essential for a harmonious and legally compliant workplace. With the guidance of a skilled employment law attorney, such as those at Galo Law Firm, you can confidently face any labor and employment law issue that may arise. By working with Galo Law Firm, you’ll learn how a San Antonio labor lawyer explains Texas’s “right-to-work” law, forming a labor union, balancing employment-at-will policies with concerted activity protections, and guiding labor disputes. For more information, call Galo Law Firm at 210-764-6135 and don’t handle the complexities of Texas employment laws alone – enlist the support of Galo Law Firm to secure a solid foundation for your professional relationships. Call us today to schedule a consultation and take the first step toward achieving legal clarity and peace of mind in your workplace.

Unions

Unions exist for the sole purpose of representing the interests of workers, especially in collective bargaining with employers. Collective bargaining is the process of negotiation between the employer and the labor union representatives to determine the key conditions of employment. The result of these efforts is the collective bargaining agreement. This collective bargaining agreement is a contract that is the starting place for resolving conflicts between the employer and its employees. Collective bargaining and union organization are governed by the federal National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
If you are organizing a workplace or engaging in collective bargaining from either side of the table, contact Galo Law Firm in San Antonio, Texas, today to schedule a consultation with one of our employment law attorneys.

National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)

The NLRA governs employee organization and collective bargaining. It also prevents unfair labor practices by both employers and unions. Under the NLRA, employees have the right to decide whether to have a union represent them for bargaining purposes. As part of the NLRA, Congress gave the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) the authority to conduct secret ballot elections on the issue, usually in the workplace of the voting employees. A secret ballot election is conducted when a petition to have such an election has been filed with the NLRB. If the petition for a secret ballot election is approved, such an election is held by the regional NLRB office; if a majority of ballots cast approve the decision to organize, the workers at that location will be entitled to organize into a formal union. A similar procedure applies when workers wish to decertify a representative or a union that represents them.

The NLRA does not apply to all workers. The Act specifically excludes from coverage those workers who are:

  • Agricultural workers
  • Domestic servants
  • Employed by a parent or spouse
  • Independent contractors
  • Supervisors and managers
  • Employed subject to the Railway Labor Act
  • Employed by state, local, or federal government entity
  • Employed by anyone who is not defined as an employer under the NLRA

If the workers agree to unionize, the individual employees will then become members of the union and will pay dues to the union to cover the costs of the services provided. A company may have union and non-union workers at the same location.

Understanding Texas’s “Right-to-Work” Law

Texas’s “right-to-work” law is a fundamental part of Austin San Antonio employment, particularly in San Antonio employment law. It stipulates that union membership is not mandatory, and employers are permitted to hire non-union employees. This policy safeguards employees’ rights to decide whether to join a union, as Texas law prohibits compulsory union membership.

If an employee believes their employer is not adhering to right-to-work laws, reaching out to the Office of the Attorney General or consulting a San Antonio employment law attorney such as Galo Law Firm is an option.

Prohibitions on Forced Union Membership

Texas law explicitly forbids forced union membership, ensuring that no individual is denied public employment due to their membership or lack thereof in a labor organization. This “Right-to-Work” Law grants workers the freedom to decide whether or not to join or financially support a labor union, protecting their right to opt in or out of joining a union or forming trade unions.

Federal law, such as the National Labor Relations Act, also safeguards employees’ right to form or join unions, protecting their union status.

Hiring Non-Union Employees

Employers in Texas can hire non-union employees, allowing for a diverse workforce. Non-union employees are protected from being denied employment based on their union membership or non-membership under the “Right-to-Work” law. This law guarantees that individuals cannot be compelled to join a labor union to obtain or retain a job.

Employers must also adhere to the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act and not discriminate against employees based on protected characteristics.

Collective Bargaining

The NLRA, which establishes procedures for the selection of a labor organization to represent employees in collective bargaining, forbids employers from interfering in this process. Under the NLRA, the employer is required to bargain solely with the representative chosen by the employees.

Unions represent employees in collective bargaining processes with employers on several issues, including wages and salaries, benefits such as health care insurance and paid time off, general working conditions, and health and safety standards in the workplace. Unions can be useful to employees because they are experienced in negotiation and familiar with the governing laws. Unions that represent a large number of workers usually are in a stronger negotiating position than each worker would be individually.

Impact on Collective Bargaining

In Texas, a “right-to-work” state, workers can freely choose whether to join or financially support a labor union. This may impact the strength of collective bargaining, as unions could have less backing from all employees. Some key points to consider are:

  • Workers have the freedom to choose whether or not to join a labor union.
  • Unions may have less support and financial backing from all employees in a “right-to-work” state.
  • Union dues are essential for trade unions to advocate for their members.
  • A certified union may not receive full backing from every staff member, including those who are not union members.

Forming a Labor Union in Texas

Labor unions are collective organizations of workers, designed to:

  • Protect and promote employee rights and interests within their specific employment fields
  • Negotiate terms related to wages, hours, conditions of employment, and other pertinent matters on behalf of the bargaining unit
  • Provide employees with collective support, a platform to express themselves, and protection from unfair treatment or discrimination.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) protects the rights of employees to engage in “concerted activity,” including unionizing.

Employee Organizing Efforts

To initiate the unionization process, employees typically engage in dialogue with their coworkers and a labor organization. They can collaborate with the labor organization to follow the necessary steps for unionization. Texas employees are legally entitled to form or join unions under the National Labor Relations Act, and minimum support from 30% of the employees is necessary for the union election petition.

Employees can use access agreements, collective bargaining, open communication channels, and employee organizing efforts to communicate their demands to their employers when they form trade unions.

Contacting a Labor Organization

A labor organization, as well as other labor organization options, can offer a range of support to employees in Texas who are attempting to form a union, such as:

  • Guiding the organizing process
  • Informing employees of their rights
  • Collecting signatures for union authorization cards
  • Offering legal advice and representation during negotiations with employers
  • Supplying resources and training
  • Advocating for employee rights in the workplace

The Texas AFL-CIO and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) are the leading labor organizations in Texas that can be consulted for union formation.

Certification Process

The process for labor union certification in Texas involves filing a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to hold an election. If the majority of votes cast are in favor of the union, the NLRB certifies it as the representative for collective bargaining.

Alternatively, a card check for union certification can be conducted, where the union collects a majority of signed authorization cards from the workers and presents them to the employer as evidence of majority support. If the employer accepts the cards as valid, they may voluntarily recognize the union as the exclusive representative of the workers.

Employment-at-Will vs. Concerted Activity

Two people shaking hands.

Texas’s employment-at-will policy allows employers to terminate employees for any reason, provided the reason is not illegal. However, concerted activity, including unionizing, is protected under federal law. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) safeguards workers engaging in concerted activity from being dismissed, penalized, or subject to retribution by their employers.

Though maintaining a balance between employment-at-will policies and protections for concerted activity can be challenging, the Texas Labor Code guarantees that workers can partake in protected concerted activities without the fear of employer backlash.

Employment-at-Will in Texas

In Texas, employment-at-will refers to an employer’s right to terminate an employee at any time, for any reason, provided the reason is not illegal. This is the standard presumption of at-will employment in Texas.

Texas’s employment-at-will policy is comparable to that of most other states in the US granting employers the legal right to terminate employees without cause, as long as it is not in violation of federal or state laws.

Concerted Activity and Unionizing

Concerted activity, such as unionizing, is protected under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The NLRA recognizes the right of employees to engage in collective action for mutual aid or protection regarding employment, granting employees the right to join together to improve their working conditions, discuss wages and benefits, and address workplace grievances.

Concerted activity is a pivotal part of unionizing, allowing employees to come together to voice their concerns and take collective action to form or join a labor union.

Potential Conflicts and Legal Challenges

The employment-at-will policy in Texas allows employers to terminate employees for any reason, including political speech and conduct. However, concerted activity protections under the NLRA (National Labor Relations Act) allow employees to engage in collective action to improve their working conditions. This may result in a conflict between the two, as employees may be dismissed for engaging in protected concerted activity under the employment-at-will policy.

Legal challenges may arise in determining what qualifies as a concerted activity involving multiple employees and balancing employees’ protected concerted activity with unprotected communications to protect against spam fraud.

Navigating Labor Disputes in Texas

Labor disputes in Texas can involve a variety of issues, such as:

  • Wage and hour disputes
  • Unsafe working conditions
  • Public policy matters
  • Discrimination in the workplace
  • Harassment
  • Retaliation
  • Wrongful termination

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) plays a vital role in enforcing federal labor laws and resolving disputes between employees and employers.

A labor lawyer from Galo Law Firm can offer direction and advocacy in dealing with labor disputes, assisting employees and employers alike in understanding their legal rights and duties related to personal labor.

Discrimination may be considered a labor dispute when it occurs in the workplace and is reported to the relevant labor or employment agency, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) office, in the context of respective employment.

Harassment can result in a labor dispute when the offensive conduct is a condition of continued employment or is severe or pervasive enough to create a hostile work environment. Retaliation at the workplace can potentially lead to a labor dispute as it infringes upon the rights of employees and can prompt legal action.

Role of the National Labor Relations Board

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) enforces federal labor laws, such as the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), that protect the rights of employees to engage in collective bargaining and other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection. The NLRB ensures that the election process is conducted fairly and impartially and resolves any disputes or objections that may arise during the certification process.

Additionally, the NLRB is responsible for enforcing labor laws and safeguarding the rights of both employees and employers in relation to union activities.

How a Labor Lawyer Can Help

A labor lawyer can provide guidance and representation in directing labor disputes. They offer legal advice and representation to workers, unions, and employers, helping them understand employment laws, negotiate settlements, file complaints, and represent clients in court if necessary.

Labor lawyers can provide invaluable support to workers seeking to establish a union by:

  • Helping them manage the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) process
  • Safeguarding their rights
  • Helping them understand the legal complexities involved in establishing a union.

Employer Compliance with Texas Employment Laws

Employers in Texas are required to comply with fundamental employment laws, including those pertaining to minimum wage, overtime pay, anti-discrimination, family and medical leave, and workers’ compensation. Compliance issues, such as responding to COVID-19 in the workplace, implementing sexual harassment prevention measures, and addressing cash and inventory shortages, can be complex.

Legal representation, such as that provided by Galo Law Firm, can help employers lead disputes and protect their interests.

Drafting Employment Contracts

Well-drafted employment contracts can help protect both employers and employees. Texas law stipulates that an employment contract must include non-competition clauses with limited scope and confidentiality clauses to protect sensitive information.

An employment contract should also include provisions for a person’s employment compensation and expectations of confidentiality.

Advising on Compliance Issues

Employers must stay informed about compliance issues to avoid legal disputes. An employment law attorney explains that legal advice can assist employers in controlling compliance issues by offering guidance and experience on the intricate laws and regulations that regulate employment practices. A labor lawyer can aid employers in understanding their rights and obligations under the law, recognizing potential compliance risks, and formulating strategies to counter those risks.

Representing Employers in Disputes

Legal representation can help employers manage disputes and protect their interests. A labor lawyer can guide the process of legal representation in Texas labor disputes, offering advice on the most appropriate course of action and assisting employers in safeguarding their interests.

They can also aid in drafting and reviewing employment policies and contracts to guarantee compliance with pertinent laws.

Contact Galo Law Firm to Help You

Understanding Texas labor and employment laws is critical for both employees and employers to ensure a positive and legally compliant work environment. From the “right-to-work” law to forming labor unions, traversing labor disputes, and ensuring employer compliance, the guidance of an experienced employment law attorney, such as those at Galo Law Firm, can make all the difference. With the right legal representation, you can confidently face any labor and employment law issue that may arise.

Galo Law Firm is dedicated to offering individualized, outcome-focused advocacy for both employees and employers concerning labor and employment law issues.

With a strong dedication to professionalism, integrity, and client satisfaction, Galo Law Firm is the ideal partner for managing the complexities of employment law. If you have a question about organizing or collective bargaining, contact Galo Law Firm in San Antonio, Texas, today to schedule a consultation with an employment lawyer to discuss what rights you may have. To obtain assistance from Galo Law Firm contact the firm directly at 210-764-6135.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Texas’s “right-to-work” law?

Texas’s “right-to-work” law prohibits unions from requiring employees to become a member or pay dues as a condition of employment, allowing employers to hire non-union workers.

How can employees in Texas form a labor union?

Employees in Texas can form a labor union by engaging with their coworkers and a labor organization, collaborating on the necessary steps for unionization, and undergoing certification with the NLRB.

Is there a statute on employment at will in Texas?

Texas is an “employment at will” state, which has been the law since 1888 and applies to all phases of the employment relationship. This means that absent a statute or express agreement, either party in an employment relationship may modify or terminate the relationship at any time for any reason.

Covid 19 Notice:

Office open during these times and available via video conference or Skype if necessary.