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The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) was enacted by Congress in 1935 to establish the legitimate rights of both workers and employers under law in order to minimize industrial strife and maintain full production of the U.S. economy.

The NLRA defines workers’ rights to organize and collectively bargain with their employers through representatives of their own choosing. The act establishes a procedure for secret ballot elections to ensure that workers can freely choose their collective bargaining representatives, without fear of retaliation of reprisal.

The NLRA also defines certain practices as “unfair labor practices,” in order to further protect the rights of both workers, employers, and the general public. Unfair labor practices include

The NLRA does not cover all workers.

    Excluded from coverage are individuals who are:

  • employed as agricultural workers*
  • employed in the domestic service of any person or family in a home
  • employed by a parent or spouse
  • employed as a supervisor
  • employed by an employer subject to the Railway Labor Act, such as railroads and airlines
  • employed by federal, state, or local government
  • employed by any other person who is not an employer as defined in the NLRA

*Agriculture workers in Hawaii are covered by the Hawaii Labor Relations Act (HLRA), which is governed by the Hawaii Labor Relations Board (HLRB). ILWU members who work in sugar, pineapple, macadamia nut, coffee, and diversified agriculture had their union representation elections held under the HLRA.

What is the NLRA?

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