The National Labor Relations Board has been busy lately issuing pro-union decisions and regulations. The Board recently issued regulations requiring virtually all private-sector employers to post a notice informing employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act, including the right to form and organize unions. The notice, combined with rules that would require quicker elections and allow smaller voting units, substantially tilts the organizing balance in favor of the unions.
The NLRB poster is now available to be downloaded from the NLRB’s web site: “Download Poster”. It can be printed in color or black-and-white on 11”x17” paper, or on two 8×11 inch pages that are taped together; smaller versions of the poster are not acceptable. The deadline for posting is November 14, 2011.
Federal contractors that already post a similar Department of Labor-required notice are not required to post this new notice. On the other hand, employers that customarily post personnel rules and policies on line or electronically, are required to post this notice in the same manner (in addition to the physical posting). Moreover, the notice must be posted in English and other languages if at least 20% of the employees are not proficient in English and speak the other language. The NLRB has committed to publishing posters in several different languages, although those are apparently not yet available.
Failure to post the notice may be treated as an independent unfair labor practice under the National Labor Relations Act, and might in some cases be considered evidence of unlawful motive in an unfair labor practice case. In addition, the failure to post may support a claim that the usual six month statute of limitations for filing an unfair labor practice charge should be extended in cases involving other alleged violations of the Act.
Employers are justifiably concerned that the new notice and other recent NLRB actions encourage union organizing activity and make them more vulnerable to organizing drives. While legal action might block implementation of some NLRB efforts, the best way for an employer to protect against organizing activity is to prevent it. Employers are stepping up supervisor training programs design to help management quickly recognize and lawfully respond to organizing efforts. Properly trained supervisors and managers are without a doubt the best defense to a union organizing drive.