CFL News
August 25, 2011

Labor Agency to Require Posting Unionization Rights

The National Labor Relations Board issued new regulations on Thursday that will require companies to post notices on their bulletin boards that inform employees about their rights to unionize under federal law.

Source: New York Times

By Steven Greenhouse

Noting that many workers are unaware of these rights, the board said the new regulations aim to make it easier for workers to exercise their rights under the National Labor Relations Act, which sets rules for unionization efforts. The board said this new notice requirement also seeks to promote compliance by employers and labor unions.

The labor board originally proposed the regulations last November, and the proposal has faced widespread criticism from the business community, which has said the move was part of the board’s pro-labor tilt under President Obama.

When the board issued its original proposal, Randel K. Johnson, senior vice president for labor policy at the United States Chamber of Commerce, said, “These actions are consistent with a general ramp-up of enforcement against employers we are seeing across the board.”

Under the new rule, employers that customarily post notices to employees regarding personnel rules on an Internet or Intranet site will be required to post this new notice on those sites

The board issued the rule after receiving more than 6,500 comments from the public. The board noted that in response to those comments, it had modified its original proposed rules so that employers would not be required to distribute the notice via email, voice mail or text messaging.

This is the first time since Congress passed the labor relations act in 1935 that the board would broadly require private-sector employers to post notices about employees’ rights under the act. Agricultural, rail and airline employers would not be covered by the new rule.

The United States Labor Department has already begun requiring federal contractors to post similar notices about employees’ right to unionize.

“Every working person in America deserves to know his or her rights,” said Richard L. Trumka, the A.F.L.-C.I.O.’s president, said when the board originally proposed the regulations. “‘This rule ensures that workers’ rights are effectively communicated in the workplace. It is necessary in the face of widespread misunderstanding about the law and many workers’ justified fear of exercising their rights under it.’

The labor board has come under heavy attack from Republicans and the business community in recent months. The most criticized move was the decision of the board’s general counsel to accuse Boeing of illegally retaliating against unionized workers in Washington State by deciding to build a new $750 million aircraft assembly plant in South Carolina.

The labor board has also come under fire for proposing regulations to speed up unionization elections, a proposal that business groups say will deny employers the ability to adequately explain to their workers the disadvantages of joining a union. Labor unions have hailed the proposal, saying it will reduce undue delays and interference by employers.

The board said that unionized and nonunion employers would have to post the new notice on rights to unionize because these rights apply to workers at union and non-union workplaces and because private-sector employers are subject to the labor board’s jurisdiction.

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