Just over half of the states in this country have right-to-work laws in place. Illinois is not one of these states. This does not mean that you do not have the right to hold a job in Illinois – of course you have the right to work. What is means is that in Illinois, there is no law prohibiting companies from requiring employees to become involved with their respective industry unions in order to become or remain employed.
There is much debate over whether right-to-work laws are in employees’ best interest. Even some proponents of these laws acknowledge that unions are generally a good thing for workers, but that forcing workers to join them is unethical. Because your employer can require you to become involved with a union in Illinois, being fired for refusing to comply is not a wrongful termination.
You Can be Required to Pay for a Union
In Illinois, you can be required to pay an agency fee even if you do not join a union, which is payment to the union that covers the costs of the benefits you receive despite not being part of the union. Before accepting a job, ask the employer about the union presence in the company and the union dues you will be required to pay.
Employees Tend to Benefit from Union Representation
Agency fees exist because when employees in unionized workplaces do not join their unions, they still benefit from the collective bargaining efforts of the unions. Even after controlling for demographic and socioeconomic differences and macroeconomic factors, wages in non-right-to-work states tend to be higher than those in right-to-work states. The rate of employer-sponsored pensions is also higher in non-right-to-work states, a benefit secured through union efforts.
Your Employer Can Never Bar you from Union Involvement
Although you can be required to pay union dues in many parts of the United States, there is nowhere that you can be prohibited from doing so. There is also nowhere in the country that you can be barred from joining or starting a labor union. The right to organize for the purpose of collective bargaining is guaranteed by the National Labor Relations Act. Under this act, you also have the right to address your employer about your pay, participate in non-violent protests, and discuss workplace concerns with your colleagues.
Work with an Experienced Chicago Employment Lawyer
Union and workplace laws in the United States can be complicated. If you are unsure about your right to take certain actions in your workplace, do not assume – ask an experienced employment lawyer who can tell you exactly what you can and cannot do legally as well as how your actions in the workplace can impact your career in the future. For trustworthy legal guidance and representation, contact The Law Office of Mitchell A. Kline today to set up your initial consultation with us.