Labor Relations, Unionization and You, the Employer

Lockouts, mediation, players union vs. owners, no games – are you feeling the gap left by the NBA basketball standoff? I am! All the commotion though, has brought to mind information employers need to know. The National Labor Relations Board has issued a new Final Rule affecting all employers covered by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). What does this have to do with striking basketball players? Everything!

The new Final Rule mandates a required notice that:

• Informs employees of their rights to form or join a union and bargain collectively with their employer for better wages and working conditions

• Lists employer conduct prohibited by the NLRA

• Gives contact information for the National Labor Relations Board

As an employer, you must post the NLRA notice in a conspicuous location at your place of business, preferably where your other employment law notices are posted. If you customarily place personnel rules and policies on your company Internet/Intranet site, the NLRA notice must also go there in addition to the physical poster. All postings must be in English and in any other language if at least 20% of your staff speaks that language and is not English proficient.

The National Labor Relations Board does not have the power to directly fine or penalize an employer, nor does it audit workplaces or initiate enforcement when the notice poster is not displayed. So why should you bother putting it up? If an employee should report you, your failure to display the notice poster constitutes an unfair labor practice in the view of the NLR Board. The Board has the legal right to extend the six month statute of limitations on any other action presented against you before them. Additionally, not posting is considered evidence of your willful, unlawful nature.

Only covered employers are affected by this Final Rule. Generally speaking, the NLRA excludes the railroad, the airlines, agriculture, the U.S. Post Office and small businesses. Check here to see if you are covered.

The original effective date for the posting of the notice was November 14, 2011. The NLR Board changed the date to January 31, 2012 to “allow enhanced education and outreach to employers, particularly those who operate small and medium-sized businesses.” The Employee Rights Notice poster is available at the Forms section of the website.

The National Association of Manufacturers, The National Federation of Independent Businesses and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have all filed lawsuits seeking to block the Final Rule. These organizations argue through the lawsuits that the NLR Board lacks authority to order employers to post this “required” notice, and that the Board-designed notice unfairly promotes unionization. Two Congressional bills have been introduced seeking to stop the Board’s Rule. No court has issued a reversal at this point. Until a court issues an injunction, the Final Rule goes forward without revision.

As an employer, the burden is on you to keep current, so be ready with your copy of the notice. I’ll also post any changes here on BlogForce to help you stay informed.

Cally Graves is an Industry Liaison between business, workforce, and education working with Workforce Solutions. She has 35 years of experience in workforce development, primarily working with employers in Houston, Texas and the Gulf Coast region.



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