Given the hostile climate toward employee rights in federal courts, it is not surprising that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has abandoned its efforts to require employers to post a notification informing workers of their rights to join together to improve their working conditions.
The NLRB wanted private-sector employers to hang a poster in a conspicuous place (i.e. lunch room) informing workers of their rights under the 75-year-old National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
Many American workers today, especially recent immigrants, are ignorant of their rights under the NLRA. The poster rule is also important for non-union workers who lack a designated bargaining representative. The NLRA can come into play in non-union workplaces when, for example, an employer fires a non-union worker for discussing a safety concern with a co-worker.
It is ironic that most private-sector employers already are required by federal law to post documents in the workplace informing workers of their rights under Fair Labor Standards Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, equal employment opportunity laws, etc.
The poster rule elicited immediate opposition from a broad coalition of national business groups after it was approved by the NLRB in 2011.
Twenty-one Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives joined with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to oppose the poster rule, including John Kline (R-Minn.) chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in South Carolina ruled last summer that the NLRB lacks the authority to require employers to post notices either electronically or physically in a conspicuous place. The court said “ we find no indication in the plain language of the Act that Congress intended to grant the Board the authority to promulgate such a requirement.”
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit earlier ruled that the poster rule violate employers’ free speech rights.
Here are the rights that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has worked so diligently to insure that American workers do not know they possess under the NLRA:
- Workers can organize a union to negotiate with employers concerning wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment.
- Workers can form, join or assist a union.
- Workers can bargain collectively through representatives of employees’ own choosing for a contract setting wages, benefits, hours, and other working conditions.
- Workers can discuss terms and conditions of employment or union organizing with co-workers or a union.
- Workers can engage in protected concerted activities with one or more co-workers to improve wages, benefits and other working conditions.
- Workers can choose not to do any of these activities, including joining or remaining a member of a union.