Private sector workers are covered under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). This is a federal law that lays out the organizing and bargaining process for private sector workers across the country.
Employee Rights Under The Law
The National Labor Relations Act says private-sector workers have a right to form a union without fear of reprisal, intimidation, coercion or interference from the employer. Employees have the right to engage in concerted activities and join together with their coworkers to have a voice in their working standards. If a private employer in Iowa interferes or retaliates against an employee for exercising these rights it is an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) and charges can be filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The NLRB would then conduct an investigation to determine if the employer has violated federal law.
Topic of Negotiations
When private-sector employees organize, the employer is obligated by federal law to negotiate wages, hours, and working conditions. Union contracts include both economic and non-economic clauses. Non-economic topics that employers are obligated to negotiate include breaks, seniority, and health and safety issues. Economic issues cover everything from wages to vacations, holiday pay, clothing allowance, and leaves of absence.
At-Will vs. Just Cause
Private sector employees who work without a union are considered “at-will” employees. This means they are hired and fired at the “will” of the employer. Policies are enforced or changed at “will” of the employer. But with a union contract, employees have the right to negotiate “just cause” language into their contract. “Just Cause” means the employer must have a reason to discipline or terminate employees. Just cause language eliminates favoritism and helps employers enforce policies consistently.
In the workplace, Local 238 Teamsters set the professional standards for tens of thousands of workers across Iowa in hundreds of industries. The non-union competitors of Teamster employers know if they don’t match our standards – their employees will also organize with the Teamsters, which means we set working standards for whole industries. Local 238’s mission is to fight for our members in order to level the economic playing field for our families.
Off the job, Teamsters Local 238 is involved in campaigns to maintain affordable housing in communities across the state, distribute food to nutritionally challenged Iowans, introduce at-risk youth to HBCUs, the Civil Rights Movement and the Labor Movement, and we are active in disaster relief efforts at an expert level. We strive to elect people to office who are responsive to the issues of Iowa workers and the most vulnerable in our society, and work to hold those elected officials accountable once they get in office.
Teamsters Local 238 is more than a Union. We share a philosophy that none of us is as strong as all of us, and together we can make Iowa a better place to live and work. We are Iowa’s new Labor Movement and we hope you will join us!