Unions and Labor Relations

The past few days have not been pretty for the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) and its controversial Notice of Employee Rights poster requirement.   Last Friday, a South Carolina federal district court found the proposed notice-posting rule invalid.  Today, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals entered an injunction temporarily barring the NLRB from enforcing the

Last week, the National Labor Relations Board issued a Final Rule requiring employers to post a notice informing employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act.  The Final Rule, entitled “Notification of Employee Rights Under the National Labor Relations Act, contains a long list of employee rights, and many examples of unlawful employer

Last week, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) issued a news release announcing a proposed rule which would impose a new notice requirement on employers subject to the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”).  The notice would inform employees of their rights under the NLRA, including their right to unionize.

According to the press release, the 

The final rules implementing Executive Order 13496, which was signed by President Obama on January 30, 2009, were recently issued.  Under the new rules, federal contractors and subcontractors are required to inform employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”), the primary federal law that governs relations between unions and private

A provision in fictional ACME, Inc.’s employee handbook states:

“All employees are strictly prohibited from discussing their salary or wage information with one another. Violation of this policy may lead to discipline up to and including termination.”

This provision, or one similar to it, is undoubtedly found in handbooks or other work rule documents in many workplaces. Is there a problem? Yes—and it could become more pronounced if not rectified soon by ACME and/or other employers.

Many employers are surprised to learn that the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) applies to non-union workplaces. It does, and Section 7 of the NLRA guarantees that all employees, regardless of union status, have the right to engage in “concerted activities for the purpose of . . . mutual aid or protection.” This means that all employers, both union and non-union, are prohibited from interfering with their employees’ right to discuss terms and conditions of employment, including wages and benefits, with each other.

In a relatively recent National Labor Relations Board decision, the NLRB found that an employer’s “Confidentiality” rule, which prohibited employees from discussing disciplinary information and salary, “plainly infringes upon Section 7 rights” as it “explicitly restricts discussion of terms and conditions of employment.”

Now that we know stifling discussion about wages and benefits risks violation of the NLRA, what about other ramifications?  Another consideration after the jump.


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