This section provides an overview of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), or “the Act,” which is the federal law that governs the relationship between most employers and unions in the private sector. This section also discusses situations in which the NLRA imposes obligations on non-union employers.

The federal agency that enforces and administers the Act is the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB or the Board).

The composition of the Board, and its agenda, often change with a new Presidential Administration. Recent years have seen some significant changes, including new general counsel and new board members. And while this Board has established a continuing trend of limiting expansive precedents from previous years, many issues affecting employers under the NLRA remain in flux. Therefore, many of the decisions referenced in this chapter came about under the Trump administration, and at the time of publication, still remain decisions that employers must be aware of and adhere to, although we expect a new Board may revisit some of these decisions in the near future.

Labor law is a dynamic area and it is always difficult to know how to respond to newly-issued Board decisions, especially when the decisions make fundamental changes in the law.

  • As a result, an employer that finds itself facing a union organizing effort, a claim for violation of employee rights under the NLRA, or who otherwise comes to the attention of the NLRB, should seek assistance from counsel experienced in labor relations matters.


CalChamber thanks Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP for its contributions to the Labor Relations in Private Employment chapter.

Joshua Henderson is a partner in Norton Rose Fulbright's San Francisco office. He represents management in various industries in a broad range of labor and employment litigation and counseling. Josh is a trusted advisor and experienced litigator on traditional labor law matters. His practice includes Board litigation, collective bargaining labor arbitrations, strikes and secondary boycotts, elections, and labor due diligence for corporate transactions. Josh’s bio can be found at More information on the firm can be found on the firm's website.