Late last year, the National Labor Relations Board announced that it was planning on issuing a new rule that would require all employers (even those that are not currently unionized) to put up a poster detailing all of the rights (including the right to join a union) guaranteed to employees under the National Labor Relations Act. This was the first proposed use of administrative rule making in more than 20 years, and comes nearly 18 years after the idea was first proposed to the Board by a labor law professor, Professor Charles Morris, in 1993. The Board's rule making announcement can be found here and the NLRB's fact sheet on the proposed rule is here.

 The Board’s action follows President Obama’s 2009 Executive Order No. 13496, directing the U.S. Department of Labor to require federal contractors to post NLRA rights notices, with the resulting oddity of the Labor Department administering and enforcing the obligation of contractors to post the notices containing rights enforced by the NLRB.

The Board has said that it intends to create a poster that is similar to the one to the right that was created by the Department of Labor. The full-size poster can be found here.

The public will be given the opportunity to comment on the proposed rule. A number of issues undoubtedly will invite comments, including whether the Board’s general rule making authority is sufficiently broad to include requiring the posting of the proposed notices; what should be contained in the notice; how the Board will enforce the obligation to post the notices; whether failure to post the notices will constitute an unfair labor practice; how many notices must be posted in a workplace that is multi-lingual; and whether electronic posting will be required?

Employers with concerns about the proposed posting requirement should seriously consider filing comments, which are due on February 22, 2011. Comments may be submitted, either electronically to www.regulations.gov, or by mail or hand-delivery to Lester Heltzer, Executive Secretary, NLRB, 1099 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20570.