Your Right to Organize

Overview

Your Right to Organize
And bargain collectively your employer

If you don’t have a union, you already know the boss can do whatever he or she wants. You really don’t know from one day to the next what could happen to your pay, your job, or even your workplace.

Without a union, you leave all of your rights outside when you walk through the door to work. But you – and the people you work with – can change this. It’s your legal right.

A union gives you the power to make your employer pay a fair wage, provide a decent place to work and a voice in the decisions that affect you. It’s the organization that represents and defends workers from unfair treatment — and it really works.

Laws for Public Sector Educators & Staff

After numerous attempts starting in the 1950s, the CFT in 1975 introduced and lobbied successfully for passage of the Educational Employment Relations Act (EERA), which gives teachers and classified employees the right to bargain collectively with their public school and community college employers. This landmark legislation became law on January 1, 1976. 

Only three years laters, the CFT lobbied similarly for passage of the Higher Education Employer-Employe Act (HEERA), bringing collective bargaining to university employees. 

Helpful links for teachers and classified employees in public schools

  • California Public Employment Relations Board The governmental agency charged with administering and enforcing state collective bargaining statutes covering employees of California’s public schools, colleges, and universities, and other groups of workers.
  • California Education Code The law that governs public schools and community colleges in California.
  • California Public Employee Relations CPER publishes a bi-monthly journal on public sector labor and employment relations as well as a series of Pocket Guides to collective bargaining statutes and other areas of the law that pertain to California’s public sector workers.

Laws for Private Sector Educators & Staff

Educators and support staff who work for private sector employers have the right to organize a union under the National Labor Relations Act, passed by Congress in 1935. The NLRA is a federal law that grants employees the right to form or join unions and engage in protected, concerted activities to address or improve working conditions.

Helpful links for members working for a private sector employer

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Links to Labor-Related Organizations

These non-governmental organizations advocate for the right of workers to form democratic unions, provide resources to workers and their families, and promote social justice issues.

California

  • Labor Project for Working Families Download resources, reports and publications on organizing, bargaining, and advocating for family-friendly workplace programs and policies.
  • Voters Inured at Work Serves injured workers and their families by providing a voice for changing workers’ compensation laws and educating the public about problems experienced by injured workers.
  • Young Workers’ Health and Safety A resource network that helps prevent California’s young workers from being injured or killed on the job.