The National Labor Relations Board is launching a new website page focused on promoting awareness and encourage the exercise of rights to employees to act together for their mutual aid and protection, even if they are not in a union, under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
As part of its aggressive commitment to promote and support union organizing and other collective action by employees under the Obama Administration, the NLRB in recent years has stepped up investigatory and enforcement activities on behalf of non-union employees. The right to engage in certain types of concerted activity was written into the original 1935 National Labor Relations Act’s Section 7, which states that: “Employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection, and shall also have the right to refrain from any or all such activities.”
Non-union concerted activity accounts for more than 5% of the agency’s recent caseload.
The new webpage launched June 18, 2012 here seeks to promote awareness and use of these and other collective action rights under the NLRA by sharing stories of more than a dozen recent cases involving protected concerted activity. Examples of these cases include stories of A construction crew fired after refusing to work in the rain near exposed electrical wires; a customer service representative who lost her job after discussing her wages with a coworker; an engineer at a vegetable packing plant fired after reporting safety concerns affecting other employees; a paramedic fired after posting work-related grievances on Facebook; and poultry workers fired after discussing their grievances with a newspaper reporter.
“A right only has value when people know it exists,” said NLRB Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce. “We think the right to engage in protected concerted activity is one of the best kept secrets of the National Labor Relations Act, and more important than ever in these difficult economic times. Our hope is that other workers will see themselves in the cases we’ve selected and understand that they do have strength in numbers.”
In addition to the new webpage, the NLRA also has undertaken efforts to promote employee awareness of NLRA rights by imposing new employer poster requirements, has attacked the use of mandatory arbibtration provisions by employers as prohibited under the NLRA, and has pursued a wide range of regulatory and enforcement policy changes that seek to strengthen the power of organized labor. In light of this growing activism, employers should continue to strengthen their labor-management policies and practices to mitigate the growing labor exposures that result from this activist agenda.
If you found this update of interest, you also may be interested in reviewing some of the other updates and publications authored by Ms. Stamer available including:
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