The ACLU has championed the right of workers to organize unions since its inception more than 90 years ago, beginning with efforts to counter the vehement anti-union crusades of the 1920s.
The ACLU continues to support the rights of employees, both public and private, to organize unions and bargain collectively. Collective bargaining statutes provide critical and necessary protection for workers who exercise basic civil rights, in particular, the rights of speech, association, and petition. Efforts to strip workers of these protections have no place in our democracy.
What is the right to collective bargaining?
The right to collective bargaining is the right of individual employees in a workplace to come together and to choose a representative, based on a majority vote, who will then negotiate with their employer over terms and conditions of employment. Because the individual worker typically lacks meaningful bargaining power to negotiate favorable employment terms, designating a representative to negotiate on behalf of a large group of workers can level the playing field between labor and management and give workers a meaningful seat at the bargaining table.
Why are the rights to form a union and engage in collective bargaining civil liberties?
Collective action is often necessary to protect individual rights. Unions by their nature facilitate and enhance the exercise of core civil liberties, such as the right of association, speech, and petition.
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