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NLRB Will Force Employers to Notify Workers of Union Rights

Posted by Mike Rudman on Aug 25, 2011 8:47:00 PM

The National Labor Relations Board announced Thursday that it has issued a "final rule" that will require employers to notify workers of their right to join a union.

NLRB Union Notifcation RulePrivate-sector employers whose workplaces fall under the National Labor Relations Act will be required to post the employee rights notice where other workplace notices are typically posted. Also, employers who customarily post notices to employees regarding personnel rules or policies on an Internet or Intranet site will be required to post the union notice on those sites. Copies of the notice will be available from the NLRB's regional offices, and it may also be downloaded from the NLRB Web site.

The notice, which is similar to one required by the U.S. Department of Labor for federal contractors, states that employees have the right to act together to improve wages and working conditions, to form, join and assist a union, to bargain collectively with their employer, and to refrain from any of these activities. It provides examples of unlawful employer and union conduct and instructs employees how to contact the NLRB with questions or complaints.

Associated Industries of Massachusetts opposes the notification rule.

“AIM member employers are not pleased by the prospect of being forced to post an invitation to workers to join a union,” said Brian Gilmore, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs at AIM.

“The rule provides no value to companies or their hard-working employees. It merely creates an opportunity for organized labor to create stress in a healthy employer/employee relationship.”

NLRB Chairman Wilma B. Liebman and members Mark Gaston Pearce and Craig Becker approved the final rule, with member Brian Hayes dissenting. The rule will be published in the Federal Register on Friday will take effect 75 days later.

The NLRB says it modified several elements of the proposed rule after receiving more than 7,000 comments. Employers will not be required to distribute the notice via email, voice mail, text messaging or related electronic communications, even if they customarily communicate with their employees in that manner, and they may post notices in black and white as well as in color. The final rule also clarifies requirements for posting in foreign languages.

The rule would treat an employer's failure to post the statement of rights under the National Labor Relations Act as an unfair labor practice. The threat of an unfair labor practice charge is particularly troubling for employers since two members of the NLRB advocate using a 1969 court decision to resolve those charges by granting a union the right to represent workers without an election.

The possibility of the NLRB allowing a union to represent workers without an election  is based upon the Gissel Packing Company decision in which the U.S. Supreme Court  approved the use of authorization cards as a measure of union sentiment for the purpose of imposing a bargaining order as remedy for an employer’s unfair labor practices. While the Court also noted that authorization cards are “admittedly inferior to the election process...,”  both Liebman and Becker have stated that Giselle should be the rule, not the exception.

Topics: Employment Law, Organized Labor, National Labor Relations Board, NLRB

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