November 14, 2011 is the day that employers covered by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) will be required to post a notice regarding employee rights to unionize. The NLRA applies to both unionized and non unionized workplaces, with certain exceptions. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced its final rule related to the Notification of Employee Rights under the NLRA. The posting, which will be available on or before November 1 on the NLRB website, includes language setting forth the rights of employees under the NLRA, including the right to organize a union to negotiate with the employer concerning wages, hours and other terms and conditions of employment, discuss wages and benefits with co-workers, and their right not to join or remain a member of a union. Language is also included concerning actions the employer is prohibited from taking, including questioning employees about union support or activity in a way that discourages employees from engaging in that activity, threatening to close a workplace if employees choose a union to represent them, and promise or grant promotions or pay raises to discourage or encourage union support. Finally, the notice includes language explaining what unions cannot do under the NLRA, including threatening or coercing employees in order to gain support for the union or take adverse action against employees because they have not joined or do not support the union.
The rule requires the following of employers who are covered by the NLRA:
Employers must post and maintain the NLRB notice in a conspicuous place and to take reasonable steps to ensure that the notices are not altered, defaced or covered by any other material, or are otherwise unreadable.
If the employer customarily posts notices to employees regarding personnel rules and policies on an Internet or intranet site, the NLRB's rules must also be posted on such sites.
In a workplace where 20% or more of the workforce is not proficient in English and speaks a language other than English, the employer must provide notice in the language that such employees speak. The NLRB has offered to provided translations of the notice.
In a workplace that includes two or more groups constituting at least 20% of the workforce who speak different languages, the employer must provide the notice in each such language. The NLRB has offered to provide translations of the notice.
Failure to post the notice may be deemed an unfair labor practice.
Practice pointers. Once again, this is a reason to train supervisors about the notice, the employer's position on unionization, and how and when these issues can be communicated with employees. The employer is permitted to post its position concerning unionization, but this should be done carefully to comply with the NLRA. It is important to note that THE NLRA APPLIES TO BOTH UNION AND NON UNION workplaces, and I anticipate that this rule will have a significant impact on workplaces that are union free or partially unionized.