Two labor boards for 695 workers to watch

Union workers in 695 should know about two labor boards that have an impact on our union and contracts. The first is the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) — the federal government’s labor agency. The NLRB only governs private sector workers, but it sets the general standard. NLRB policy affects the rights of stewards to enforce the contract, determining the work rules that are legal according to the National Labor Relations Act (the federal law that recognizes the right to form a union and collective action), and it mediates complaints between unions and employers.

Unions (and individual union workers) can file “unfair labor practice” complaints, alleging that the employer is violating labor law, which the board investigates. Stewards especially should sign up to get the NLRB’s briefs.

Wisconsin also has its own state labor board, the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission (WERC). Public sector union rights are determined by state law. The WERC is the state’s labor agency that does similar things to the NLRB but for public employees. It also is frequently used in the private sector for arbitration — so private sector workers should know who’s there and the developments in the WERC.