Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Labor Union Definition:

A defined group of employees formed for the purposes of representing those employees with the employer as to the terms of a collective contract of employment.

Related Terms: Union, Trade Union, Labor Organization, Collective Bargaining, Yellow Dog Contract

Also known as a trade union, labor organization or simply, a union.

In US v White, Justice Murphy of the United States Supreme Court wrote:

"Structurally and functionally, a labor union is an institution which involves more than the private or personal interests of its members. It represents organized, institutional activity, as contrasted with wholly individual activity. This difference is as well defined as that existing between individual members of the union. The union's existence in fact, and for some purposes in law, is as perpetual as that of any corporation, not being dependent upon the life of any member. It normally operates under its own constitution, rules and bylaws, which, in controversies between member and union, are often enforced by the courts. The union engages in a multitude of business and other official concerted activities, none of which can be said to be the private undertakings of the members.

"Duly elected union officers have no authority to do or sanction anything other than that which the union may lawfully do; nor have they authority to act for the members in matters affecting only the individual rights of such members. The union owns separate real and personal property, even though the title may nominally be in the names of its members or trustees. The official union books and records are distinct from the personal books and records of the individuals, in the same manner as the union treasury exists apart from the private and personal funds of the members. And no member or officer has the right to use them for criminal purposes or for his purely private affairs. The actions of one individual member no more bind the union than they bind another individual member unless there is proof that the union authorized or ratified the acts in question. At the same time, the members are not subject to either criminal or civil liability for the acts of the union or its officers as such unless it is shown that they personally authorized or participated in the particular acts."

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