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Canaries were used in times past to alert miners to the presence of dangerous gases in a mine A canary would die and the miners would thereby become aware of deadly but sometimes odorless gases Just as canaries have alerted miners to the presence of dangerous gases in mines workers exposed to dangerous pollutants and conditions in workplaces may function as societal canaries warning the broader public of environmental dangers but hopefully without having to die in the process To perform this role the workers must live to work and protest another day Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act is an underappreciated tool for making that outcome more likely for nonunion workers not enjoying the safety provisions of collective bargaining agreements It protects workers engaged in concerted activities to in effect save their lives