A closed shop agreement, also known as a union security agreement, is a contract between an employer and a labor union that requires the employer to only hire union members for certain job positions. Section 23 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) allows for closed shop agreements, but with some restrictions.
Under the NLRA, closed shop agreements are only allowed in industries where the majority of workers are unionized. Additionally, employees who are currently in their probationary period or have religious objections to joining a union are exempt from the agreement. The NLRA also allows for union shops, where employees only have to join the union after a certain amount of time working for the employer.
The purpose of closed shop agreements is to strengthen the bargaining power of unions by ensuring that all workers in a specific job classification are union members. This allows unions to negotiate better wages, benefits, and working conditions for their members. However, closed shop agreements have been criticized for limiting employment opportunities for non-union workers and potentially violating their right to work without being compelled to join a union.
In recent years, there has been a decline in the use of closed shop agreements due to changes in labor laws and the decline of union membership. Right-to-work laws, which have been passed in more than half of U.S. states, prohibit closed shop agreements and allow workers to join or not join a union without fear of reprisal.
In conclusion, closed shop agreements are a legal but increasingly rare form of union security agreement permitted under Section 23 of the NLRA. While they can benefit union members by strengthening their bargaining power, they also limit employment opportunities for non-union workers and can potentially infringe upon their right to work without being compelled to join a union. As the labor landscape continues to evolve, it remains to be seen if closed shop agreements will continue to exist in the future.