Employers: New Worker Notice Rule Proposed

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) proposed a rule last week that virtually all employers of any size be required to post notice informing workers of their rights to organize labor unions, to strike, and to do so without punishment by their employers. The notices also instruct employees on how to file NLRB complaints against their employers. The notices would have to be printed in large, color format and to be placed in convenient employee areas. Failure to do so would result in exposure to federal charges.

What’s new about this rule?

Several other laws have recently been amended to require such notices for narrow categories of employers, such as federal contractors, but this proposed rule is different in that it applies to nearly all employers. Currently, most private employers are required to post notices only in two circumstances: (1) before union elections and (2) after the NLRB finds a violation of an employee’s rights. However, the NLRB is of the opinion that most employees are not sufficiently informed of their rights to unionize and organize strikes, partially based on the fact that only 8 percent of private-sector employees are currently organized; thus, employers may have to inform their employees on their rights to strike and organize unions.

What if I don’t post the notice?

Although the notices will not impose a heavy financial burden on employers (though the burden is not negligible—printing one “Saver” poster at FedEx Office costs $43.50), failure to post the notices would make employers liable for charges of unfair labor practices and would eliminate the statute of limitations on any unfair labor practice complaints. Any employee may file a complaint with the NRLB.

What can I do now?

One NLRB member, Brian E. Hayes, disagrees with the proposed rule, arguing that the NLRB does not have the power to force employers to post the notices; this suggests that the rule, if enacted, may be challenged in the courts. Employers are invited to comment on the rule by submitting complaints and suggestions by filling out a form here. We will keep you updated if the proposed rule is enacted, likely in Spring 2011.

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