Unions across the country are accountable to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The NLRB was formed in 1935 to protect the rights of private sector employees to form unions and bargain collectively in order to improve wages and working conditions.
VFNHP is a private sector union and therefore under the stewardship of the National Labor Relations Board. The board is appointed by the President of the United States, approved by the U.S. Senate, and is charged with enforcing the National Labor Relations Act.
All members are also entitled to something called the “Weingarten Rights”. In 1975, the US Supreme Court passed a law explicitly giving union members the right to union representation when speaking with their managers.
If a discussion with your manager could in any way lead to your being disciplined or terminated, or affect your personal working conditions, you have the right to request that a steward or union officer be present at the meeting. If you do not have representation present, you do have the right not to answer any questions. We strongly recommend that you do not attend such meetings with management alone.
Weingarten Rights cards
“If this discussion could in any way lead to my being disciplined or impact my evaluation, or affect my personal working conditions, I request that my Union Steward: __________________________ be present at the meeting. Without representation, I choose not to answer any questions.” Our union office has Weingarten Rights cards; if you need more for your unit, please contact your union representative or call the union office.
Also, According to the National Labor Relations Act, you have the right:
- To organize a union and collectively bargain with your employer over all working conditions, including but not limited to wages, benefits and hours.
- To attend union meetings.
- To talk about the union freely any place where you can discuss other non-work related issues. Remember, if you can talk about sports, the weather, your family, etc., you can discuss union issues and management may not interfere.
- To wear union buttons and stickers. (Section 8 (a) (1) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The NLRA, Labor Board decisions and the US Supreme Court have all affirmed union members' right to wear stickers/buttons at work.
- To read or distribute union literature. Management may not remove or discard union literature if it is in a non-patient care area.
- To sign a union card. Intimidation by management is a violation of your rights and is against the law.
Whistleblower Protection Act
In 1989, the federal government passed the Whistleblower Protection Act. This law protects you from retaliation from your employer when reporting such things as unsafe or unhealthy working conditions, environmental issues, public safety hazards or other issues to OSHA or any other government agency. For more information check out: Federal Whistleblower Protection Act.
In addition to federal protection, the Vermont legislature, with strong support and guidance from our union, passed the Healthcare Whistleblower Protection Act in 2005, containing some of the strongest whistleblower language in the country. If you believe that you have a whistleblower issue in your unit, contact a union representative immediately. Print this poster containing pertinent information to assist you.
This statute specifically protects healthcare workers. To view the actual statute, click here: Vermont law (Title 21, V.S.A., Sections 507-509).
Protect Your Rights – Get Involved!
Our rights as union members have been hard fought and face consistent threats and challenges. Thoroughly knowing our rights is our first line of defense against violations, and provides the best chance we have of protecting them. VFNHP is constantly working to improve upon and advance the rights and protections of unions and union members. Your participation is crucial as we build and strengthen our movement.
Contact the Union Office at 802.657.4040, or email infovfnhp.org, for ways you can help protect your rights, get involved, and build a stronger union.