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Latest News - January 2011

January 3, 2011
What’s on NLRB’s Radar for 2011
Source: HR BLR

Labor expert Jay Krupin predicts that the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) next moves will be to seek membership in bargaining units for temporary workers and reduced standards for supervisors, so that more of them can be unionized. The Board has also been active on other fronts. Its acting general counsel, who serves as chief prosecutor, wants regional officials to crack down harder on employers accused of unfair labor practices.

First, he wants officials to take to court for an injunction any employer who appears to have fired someone wrongfully in the midst of a union organizing campaign. The firing of any pro-union employee during a campaign, the general counsel has said, is likely to “nip in the bud” all employees’ efforts to unionize. Such a firing may lead to what he has called an “expedited” investigation. Further, he has asked officials to force employers to have read aloud by a high-level manager any message sent by the Board chastising an employer for unfair labor practices; he wants a union attempting to organize employees to be given access to company bulletin boards and computer networks; and he is urging that employee names and home addresses be provided to a union.

The general counsel calls these measures “special remedies.” But observers have labeled them “extraordinary” and noted that they have been used very little during the Board’s 75-year history. They also warn that labor organizers may be more motivated to file more unfair labor practices charges in light of the called-for remedies.

Another proposal is to require all private-sector employers whose workplaces are covered by the National Labor Relations Act to post a notice to employees of their rights under that law. The notice would take its place among other posters that employers are required to make accessible to employees, such as those covering civil rights and workplace safety.

Like the current notice for federal contractors, the new notice would state these employee rights: (1) Act together to improve wages and working conditions; (2) Form, join, and assist a union; (3) Bargain collectively with their employer; and (4) Choose not to do any of these activities. The notice would also include examples of illegal employer and union conduct and tell employees how to contact the NLRB with complaints or questions.

Finally, on the topic of allowing organizers access to workplaces, an administrative law judge has determined that a supermarket chain in Wisconsin did not have the right at most of its locations to expel union organizers who were giving handbills to employees. The reason for his decision was the chain’s history of allowing charities, community groups, and even politicians into the stores to promote their causes.



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