Our Rights As Union Members
What you need to know
As a member of VFNHP, you qualify for certain protections and rights under the law.
Federal law provides important protection for our union as a whole, as well as for each of us as individuals. At the local level, through negotiations, we have earned rights for ourselves that are outlined in detail in our contract.
Our rights under federal law
Unions across the country are accountable to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). VFNHP is a private sector union and therefore under the stewardship of the National Labor Relations Board. The board is appointed by the President of the United States, approved by the U.S. Senate, and is charged with enforcing the National Labor Relations Act.
According to the National Labor Relations Act, you have the right:
To organize a union and collectively bargain with your employer over all working conditions, including but not limited to wages, benefits and hours.
To attend union meetings.
To talk about the union freely any place where you can discuss other non-work-related issues. Remember, if you can talk about sports, the weather, your family, etc., you can discuss union issues, and management may not interfere.
To wear union buttons and stickers. (Section 8 (a) (1) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The NLRA, Labor Board decisions, and the US Supreme Court have all affirmed union members’ right to wear stickers/buttons at work.
To read or distribute union literature. Management may not remove or discard union literature if it is in a non-patient care area.
To sign a union card. Intimidation by management is a violation of your rights and is against the law.
All members are entitled to something called the “Weingarten Rights.” This explicitly gives union members the right to union representation when speaking with their managers.
If a discussion with your manager could in any way lead to your being disciplined or terminated, or affect your personal working conditions, you have the right to request that a steward or union officer be present at the meeting. We strongly recommend that you do not attend such meetings with management alone.
Whistleblower Protection Act
The Whistleblower Protection Act protects you from retaliation from your employer when reporting such things as unsafe or unhealthy working conditions, environmental issues, public safety hazards or other issues to OSHA or any other government agency. For more information check out: Federal Whistleblower Protection Act.
In addition to federal protection, the Vermont legislature, with strong support and guidance from our union, passed the Healthcare Whistleblower Protection Act in 2005, containing some of the strongest whistleblower language in the country. If you believe that you have a whistleblower issue in your unit, contact a union representative immediately . This statute specifically protects healthcare workers. To view the actual statute, click here: Vermont law (Title 21, V.S.A., Sections 507-509).
Our rights under contract
After a contract has been negotiated and ratified, it becomes a legally binding agreement. All of our rights are specifically outlined in the contract. Knowing your rights under the contract is essential. Take the time to familiarize yourself with all sections and articles of your contract. Some of these rights and benefits are vital to our ability to provide exemplary service to our patients, and be protected while doing so. Every article in the contract is important, whether it is relevant only to a single individual, or affects each of us every day. Knowing your rights can go a long way towards identifying and preventing violations before they occur.
Who to contact
If you have any questions regarding your contract, please contact the Union Office at 802.657.4040, or email firstname.lastname@example.org, for more information.
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We are a strong union of health care professionals organized to ensure access to high-quality health care for everyone in the communities we serve.