2015 ITUC Global Rights Index Rating: 4

Barriers to the establishment of organisations:

Even where a majority of workers have voted for the union in a secret ballot election, employers can refuse to recognise the union and delay bargaining by filing multiple appeals with administrative agencies and courts.

Categories of workers prohibited or limited from forming or joining a union, or from holding a union office:

Managerial and supervisory staff are excluded from the NLRA. Supervisors and managers may be required, on pain of termination, to campaign against the union regardless of their personal feelings about unionisation. Agricultural workers are excluded from the NLRA. Domestic workers are excluded from the NLRA.

Other restrictions:

Unions have no right of access to employers' property for purposes of organising or communicating with workers regarding unionisation and no right of reply to employer claims about the union or unionisation.

Excessive requirements in respect to trade unions' representativity or minimum number of members required to bargaining collectively:

Employers have no legal obligation to recognise and bargain with a union unless a majority of workers in an "appropriate bargaining unit" have authorised the union to represent them. Employers can choose to recognise a union on the basis of signed authorisation cards from a majority of the workers, but alternatively can insist that the union prove its majority support in a secret ballot election.

Limitations or ban on collective bargaining in certain sectors:

The Federal Labor Relations Act gives limited collective bargaining rights to most federal sector workers, and about half the states have statutes or other rules establishing collective bargaining rights for state and local government workers. The rest of the states provide either no collective bargaining rights for public sectors or provide such rights for only limited categories of workers. Altogether, only about 75% of public sector workers have a right to collectively bargain. The ongoing "War on Terrorism" has been used as a pretext to significantly roll back labour rights for employees of the U.S. government. Under the 2004 National Defense Authorization Act, the Department of Defense was authorised to curtail collective bargaining rights until 2009 for its civilian employees. A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia also struck down portions of the rules applying to employees of the Department of Homeland Security that abrogated certain collective bargaining agreements and limited the scope of collective bargaining. In North Carolina, for example, all public employees are denied collective bargaining rights.

Restrictions with respect to type of strike action:

The NLRA and judicial decisions interpreting the law prohibit workers from engaging in sitdown strikes, partial strikes and secondary boycotts, and impose other restrictions on organisational or recognitional strikes. Workers at certain health care institutions must provide 10 days' advance notice before engaging in a strike or picketing such as intermittent strikes, secondary boycotts and other forms of mutual aid and protection.

Possibility to replace workers during lawful strike actions:

The NLRA allows employers to replace striking workers permanently. Permanent replacement workers can vote in a decertification election to eliminate union representation.

The ITUC Global Rights Index Ratings:

1 // Irregular violation of rights
Collective labour rights are generally guaranteed. Workers can freely associate and defend their rights collectively with the government and/or companies and can improve their working conditions through collective bargaining. Violations against workers are not absent but do not occur on a regular basis.

2 // Repeated violation of rights
Countries with a rating of 2 have slightly weaker collective labour rights than those with the rating 1. Certain rights have come under repeated attacks by governments and/or companies and have undermined the struggle for better working conditions.

3 // Regular violation of rights
Governments and/or companies are regularly interfering in collective labour rights or are failing to fully guarantee important aspects of these rights. There are deficiencies in laws and/or certain practices which make frequent violations possible.

4 // Systematic violation of rights
Workers in countries with the rating 4 have reported systematic violations. The government and/or companies are engaged in serious efforts to crush the collective voice of workers putting fundamental rights under threat.

5 // No guarantee of rights
Countries with the rating of 5 are the worst countries in the world to work in. While the legislation may spell out certain rights workers have effectively no access to these rights and are therefore exposed to autocratic regimes and unfair labour practices.

5+ // No guarantee of rights due to the breakdown of the rule of law
Workers in countries with the rating 5+ have equally limited rights as countries with the rating 5. However, in countries with the rating 5+ this is linked to dysfunctional institutions as a result of internal conflict and/or military occupation. In such cases, the country is assigned the rating of 5+ by default.

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