Who Can Join a Union and Who is Excluded?

By hrlineup | 20.02.2020

You join a company as a new employee and all you know is the job responsibilities and general employment terms such as wages or salaries. In most cases, when you hear the statement” Welcome new employees”, what comes to your mind is how you are going to work hard and receive your first paycheck. You don’t care much about the working conditions and interests in the workplace. A labor union, including a casual workers union, allows employees to engage in collective bargaining in negotiating for good working conditions. But the big question is, “who can join a union and who is excluded?’ Let’s break it down according to the National Labor Relations Act:

Who Can Join a Union?

A union may cover workers in different industries but with a common purpose. Various people can join a labor union and have a say at their workplace. For an employer to be covered by employment laws in the federal government in the USA, there is a particular number of employees they must employ depending on the employment type. However, the state covers smaller employers who may not meet the minimum threshold. Generally, employees in various sectors can join a casual workers union. These include:

  • Healthcare workers nurses, and employees in the hospitality industry

These are covered by Service Employees International Union

  • Advocates of public education and service

They fall under the American Federation of Teachers

  • Warehouse workers
  • Engineers
  • Lawyers and advocates
  • Plumbers, pipefitters and service technicians
  • Airport workers
  • Postal service workers
  • Paramedics and firefighters
  • Freight drivers
  • Textile and gaming industry workers who are protected by the Unite Here.
  • Employees in the packaging, processing, retail, cannabis, chemical industry among others- These fall under the umbrella of United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.
  • Workers in broadcasting, telecommunication, manufacturing, construction, utilities, and railroads. These are covered by the International Brotherhood of Electrical workers which advocates for better benefits and wages.
  • Workers in wood products industries
  • Law enforcers
  • Delivery letter carriers
  • Marine workers

Who is Excluded From Joining a Union?

Not all employees are eligible to join a union. The National Labor Relations Act does not cover the following classes of employees:

  • State or federal government Employees
  • Employees in agricultural farms
  • Managers and supervisors
  • Employees required to hold information confidential
  • Most domestic employees
  • Those with blood relations with employers

Parting Shot

The majority of workers especially in the private sector are protected by the National Labor Relations Act in the USA. There has been a declining trend in private-sector union membership compared to the public sector. You can easily identify with a union that will safeguard your interest as a worker in whatever industry and capacity you are in. You do not have to be focused on your duties and responsibilities as a worker. Understand your rights to ensure the protection of your interests as well as improving the working conditions.  Joining a union is important but optional.