Effective 1/31/12, most employers will be required to post a notice explaining:
- employees’ rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA); such as their right to organize, bargain collectively, discuss wages and other terms and conditions of employment, and picket and strike;
- what is deemed illegal employer and union activity under the NLRA;
- basic enforcement procedures; and how to contact the Board for more information.
Basically, the new ruling requires employers to post notices advising employees of their rights to unionize, identifying specific types of protected concerted activity and detailing several unfair labor practices that can be filed against employers. The new ruling is creating grief among most employers as it is basically telling employees, “don’t forget about your right to unionize.”
All employers under the jurisdiction of the NLRB must comply with the new posting requirement. The U.S. Postal Service, agriculture, railroad and airline employers are the only ones who are excluded from the posting requirement. The posting requirement applies to both unionized and non-unionized employers. If you are uncertain about whether you must comply, please contact New Focus HR or your employment law attorney.
Employers may download the new posting from the National Labor Relations Board’s website at www.nlrb.gov at no cost. Commercial suppliers are also willing to sell them to you for a fee. However, know that the notice to employees must be at least 11 inches by 17 inches in size if on one piece of paper or 8 inches by 11 inches if on two pieces of paper taped together. Consolidated posters, are acceptable as long as the size, content, format and font size/style remain the same.
The posting must be posted in a conspicuous place where it can be readily seen by employees, including all places where notices to employees concerning personnel rules/policies are customarily posted. A lunchroom or employee break room is a suggested location. If the employer customarily communicates with employees via an intranet or internet site, the poster must also be posted in this location. Again, if posted on an intranet or internet site, it must be an exact copy of the NLRB’s poster or a link to the NLRB’s website that contains a copy of the poster. If 20% or more of an employer’s workforce is not proficient in the English language and speaks another language, the employer must post the notice in the language employees speak. Again, the NLRB should be able to provide copies of the posting in various languages.
Employers who do not post the notice may risk being charged with an independent unfair labor practice as a violation of the employees’ right to engage in collective or organizing activity. The NLRB may also toll the six-month statute of limitations on separate charges filed by an employee. Also, depending upon the circumstances, an employer’s failure to comply with the posting requirement may be used to infer an unlawful motive in a separate case where the employer’s motive for a human resource action is at issue.
An employer still has the same rights to share its position about labor unions in a non-coercive way, including posting a side notice along with the notice required by law. Employers who do post a side notice to the new posting must comply with the same rules that govern all employer communications under the NLRA. Employer notices may:
- inform employees about their right to refuse to support a labor union;
- remind employees that the company opposes having a union and will do everything permitted to defeat any attempt to organize the workforce;
- state that the company hopes employees will say “no” if approached to sign a union petition or card; and
- that the company believes a union would not be in the employees’ or the company’s “best” interest.
New Focus HR recommends that employers work with either an HR consultant or an employment law attorney on a plan for posting the new NLRB required poster no later than 1/31/12.
For additional information on this topic, please contact New Focus HR.
Written By: Kristen Shingleton, M.B.A., CCP
President, New Focus HR LLC