Uniform Labor Practice – Definition

Cite this article as:"Uniform Labor Practice – Definition," in The Business Professor, updated May 11, 2019, last accessed October 25, 2020, https://thebusinessprofessor.com/lesson/uniform-labor-practice-definition/.


Unfair labor practice (ULP) Definitions

Unfair labor practices are actions executed by employers that the 1935 National Labor Relations Act prohibits. There are certain practices in the United States labor law that are regarded illegal and unfair to employees. Actions by employers and trade unions that violate the rights and protection of workers are called Unfair Labor Practice. Legislation such as NLRA and Wagner Act frown at unfair labor practices.

A Little More on What is Unfair Labor Practice

The National Labor Relations Act is under the jurisdiction of the NLRB. This board enforce labor in the United States, it also investigates unfair labor practices which are contained in Section 8 of the 1935 NLRA. Actions of employers that considered illegal under this act are :

  • Interference of an employer that infringes on the right of the employees.
  • Interference with or domination of a labor organization by an employer.
  • Restraining employees from participation in union activities.
  • Discriminating against an employee for taking part in NLRB proceedings.
  • Refusal of an organization to bargain with the trade union as a representative of its employees.

There are certain actions that a trade union can perform that are also contrary to labor law. These are also unfair labor practices:

  • Restraint of employees and employers by trade unions on exercising their rights
  • Coercion of employers to discriminate against their employees.
  • Refusal of a trade union or labor organization to bargain with an employer who is representing her employees.
  • Trade unions engaging in illegal strikes or any type of boycotts.
  • A labor organization engaging in ‘hot cargo’
  • Excessive fees by a trade union.
  • Striking or engaging in health care establishment without prior notice.

Furthermore, while some active amount to unfair labor practices, some actions that seem unfair may necessarily not be regarded as unfair labor practices. A good example is the failure of an employer to pay extra allowances in cases of overtime. This act violates the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) but it is not an unfair labor practice. It is only in cases where an employer violates the provisions of labor law that the NLRB investigates and give remedy.

Employees can file charges against any employer that engages in unfair labor practice. Individuals can file charges in person or consult NLRB employees to assist them in filing the charges. Under the NLRA, individuals are expected to file charges within six months of the violation. However, in cases where an owner try to conceal the unfair practice, deadline for filing and serving of charges can be extended. In contrast, NLRB employees cannot file charges for themselves, because an employee of the board cannot file charges with the Board.

Once an individual files a charge with NLRB, the General Counsel of the board takes up the investigation and processing of the charge. However, investigations and processing become easier only when the complainant has evidence or witness to support the claims. Failure to provide witness or evidence can lead to the dismissal of the charge by the Regional Director with whom it was filed.

The Regional Director makes decisions as to whether a compliant should be issued or dismissal should be applied to the charge filed.

However, if the RD decides to dismiss the charge and the complainant is unsatisfied, the dismissal can be appealed in the office if the General Counsel.

Issuance of compliant and settlement are based on the decision of the Regional Director after a charge has been filed. Once the Region finds the charge worthy of issuance of compliant, the respondent will have to answer to the violations of law underlined in the charge. Also, the Region can amend the charge to accommodate other violates alleged by the complainant but are not in the unfair practices outlined in the act. The issuance of complaint is however followed by formal settlement. If the party is not satisfied with the settlement, the Board can set an informal settlement.

An injunctive relief is an order granted by the court to prevent injustice pending trial. During the processing of a charge, the General Counsel can seek injunctive relief if there is a need to issue a complaint. Injunctive relief can be issued by a federal district court, this order helps to maintain the status quo before the Board makes a decision. The Board often seek injustice relief in cases where there is not enough evidence in the charge filed by a party. However, due to the availability of some evidence to support the party’s claims, the Board needs an injunctive to prevent injustice.

If a charge cannot be settled by the Regional Director or the Board, the next resort is to present the case before an Administrative Law Judge of the NLRB. Hence, hearing always come after the inability of a region of settle a charge, before the hearing however, a subpoena is to be issued to the concerned party.

References for Unfair Labor Practices

Academic Research on the Unfair labor practice (ULP)

Political bias in NLRB unfair labor practice decisions, Cooke, W. N., & Gautschi III, F. H. (1982). ILR Review, 35(4), 539-549.

An Employer’s Unilateral Action–An Unfair Labor Practice, Bowman Jr, J. G. (1955). Vand. L. Rev., 9, 487.

A quantitative study of unfair labor practice cases, Roomkin, M. (1981). ILR Review, 34(2), 245-256.

The determinants of voting by the National Labor Relations Board on unfair labor practice cases: 1955–1975, Delorme, C. D., Hill, R. C., & Wood, N. J. (1981). Public Choice, 37(2), 207-218.

Conversion of Strikes: Economic to Unfair Labor Practice, Stewart, F. H. (1959). Va. L. Rev., 45, 1322.

Conversion of Strikes: Economic to Unfair Labor Practice: II, Stewart, F. H. (1963). Virginia Law Review, 1297-1323.

Interindustry patterns in unfair labor practice cases, Roomkin, M. J., & Harris, D. A. (1984). Journal of Labor Research, 5(2), 113-126.

Irrelevance of the Wright Line Debate: Returning to the Realism of Erie Resistor in Unfair Labor Practice Cases, Jackson, C. C., & Heller, J. S. (1982). Nw. UL REv., 77, 737.

Are Arbitrators Qualified to Decide Unfair Labor Practice Cases?, Belkin, L. S. (1973). Labor Law Journal, 24(12), 818.

The Unfair Labor Practice Caseload: An Analysis of Selected Remedies, Parker, H., & Gilmore, H. L. (1983). Labor Law Journal, 34(3), 172.

Reconversion of UnfairLaborPractice Strikes to Economic Strikes, Rabbitt, J. M. (1975). Geo. LJ, 64, 1143.


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