Can I face retaliation for supporting a union?

  • FAQ
  • First, the union card and vote are confidential! You do not have to be a vocal member to support unionization.
  • Additionally, it is illegal (per the National Labor Relations Board) for an employer to retaliate against an employee for union activities. They cannot ask you if you support the union, or threaten any punitive action such as not writing a recommendation letter because you supported the union. In fact, it is easier to retaliate against an individual pushing for change rather than a resident union standing together.
  • A union should not get in the way of existing relationships with faculty; instead, it can protect your interests and rights in case the attitudes or personnel of leadership changes.
  • If you are an international graduate, unionizing will not jeopardize your visa. CIR has legal representation to back us up.

Generally, it is illegal for employers to S.P.I.T. (Document any activity that may look like this, and report it here):


Administration and department leadership may not conduct unlawful surveillance of employees’ union activity. Identifying, tracking and surveillance of employee discussions about the union or union meetings is illegal. 


Supervisors cannot inquire about what goes on at union meetings, ask which employees attend the meeting, or even give the impression of such surveillance.


Administration and department leadership must not directly or indirectly promise any benefits or reward employees for refusing to sign a union card, or for voting against your union. They may not promise a wage increase or give preferential treatment in exchange for refraining from union activity. Encouraging employees to withdraw or repudiate union authorization cards is also unlawful. They may not solicit grievances about working conditions while expressly or impliedly promising corrections if residents do not form a union.


“I can get you a job here or give you a good recommendation letter if you don’t get involved.”

Reminder: There is nothing holding management accountable to any promises they make and they do not have to follow through. 


Administration and department leadership should not interrogate, or ask, any employee whether or not he or she favors the union, has signed a union card, or has gone to a union meeting. 

You can always say you’re not comfortable answering their questions. Remember to ask whether they’ve talked to others, whether they know if they’re allowed to ask, and if they have concerns about residents forming a union and what they are.  

Questions they may ask:

Have you heard of a union being formed? Are you involved? Have you been asked to sign a card? Do any of your colleagues have interest in forming a union? Who have you heard union talk from? Do you think you’ll join?


Administration and program leadership must not threaten employees with harm or reprisals (economic or otherwise) if they decide to get involved with the union or sign a union card. 


Administration may not threaten to take away residency spots or current department benefits if the residents decide to form or join a union.