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Employee Voice

Employee voice is referred to the extent to which employment or labor laws permit or require employers to respect, respond to, or at least refrain from interfering with employee "say" and influence over the broad range of workplace matters of interest to employees. It can also include a very different subject of whether the law allows employers to compel employees to speak on some subjects. Discuss whether the U.S. employment or labor law appropriately handles the issue of employee voice. Please use as many labor law examples as possible, examples that involve collective or individual behavior, or combination of the two, or the NLRA's treatment of employee participation programs.

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Employee voice is important: it elevates the dignity of the worker, improves worker relations with management, and significantly, is able to compensate for the unrealistic "exit" scenario. Grievance procedures are a public good that employers should provide. Yet, as unions have shrunk both qualitatively and quantitatively, so has employee voice.

As of 2013, there are really no specific federal employee voice laws. There are some within the NLRA that may hint at it, but there is nothing specific, at least according to the US Department of Labor.

Any pro-union legislation promotes worker voice. This is clear enough. The act of negotiation and recognition of two equal partners is almost the very definition of voice. In union negotiations, as opposed to individual contracts, two institution exist as equals, not hierarchically. Unions also monitor the firm and how workers are treated.

Section 7 of the NLRA states:

Employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection, and shall also have the right to refrain from any or all of such activities except to the extent that such right may be affected by an agreement requiring membership in a labor organization as a condition of employment as authorized in section 8(a)(3) [section 158(a)(3) of this title].

In addition, to dominate or try to control the existence of any union is also considered an unfair labor practice. Section 8a3 makes it plain that a union may represent all employees so long as a majority vote has been taken. If a union is formed, employers can take no retaliatory action. Unions are also given the right of internal autonomy.

At the same time, section 7 also states that "closed shops" are banned. This leads to the free rider problem. Since unions raise wages even for non-members, then what is the incentives to pay dues? This has been the problem with recent labor organizing in America. It should also be noted that US Law prohibits companies from forming their own unions to manipulate employees.

The Department of Labor says:

Employee involvement systems are somewhat more frequent under collective bargaining than in other settings. In the Workplace Representation and Participation Survey, 33 percent of unionized employees reported that they were involved in a participation program, compared to 28 ...

Solution Summary

The expert examines an employees voice.