The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, September 23, 2011


By The Building Tradesman

Unions praise new NLRB posting rule

WASHINGTON (PAI) – Unions praised the National Labor Relations Board’s new rule that requires employers to put up posters informing workers of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act – including the right to organize – starting in November .

The rule became final Aug. 30, despite opposition from around 20 congressional Republicans, led by Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill. It takes effect Nov. 14. Violating the rule, after warnings, will considered an unfair labor practice, NLRB said.

The rule was the first one pushed through to a conclusion by the NLRB in years. It also represents the closing curtain on the 12-year board service of Chairman Wilma Liebman. Her term ended Aug. 27. Board member Mark Pearce succeeded her.

“We applaud the rule requiring employers to post a notice in their workplaces notifying employees of their rights,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. He called it “a responsible and much-needed step.”

Since employers must tell workers of their job safety and health rights, wage rights and right to non-discrimination on the job, “This rule gives clear information to employees about their rights under this fundamental labor law so workers are better equipped to exercise and enforce them,” Trumka pointed out.

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) didn’t waste any time filing a lawsuit to stop the from implementing the regulation. In a statement, Jay Timmons, NAM’s president and CEO, said the rule is “just another example of the board’s aggressive overreach to insert itself into the day-to-day decisions of businesses – exerting powers it doesn’t have.”

Teamsters President James Hoffa said: “The new rule requires large companies to post an 11-inch x 17-inch poster that notifies workers of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act. Employers must already inform workers about health, safety, wage and discrimination rights. This is a reasonable reform that gives workers clear guidelines about their basic rights under federal labor law.

“Employers have only one reason to oppose this rule: They don’t want their workers to know about their legal protections and fundamental right to organize into union,” Hoffa stated.

The NLRB, in its formal announcement, said it issued the rule precisely because of that reason: Many workers do not know their rights under the law, and employers must tell workers of their rights only when the firms break the law – unlike the case in other federal workplace laws. But the agency, in a concession to employers’ comments, said firms don’t have to send workers a notice about their rights by e-mail, even if that’s the primary way they communicate with their workers.

Hoffa noted the rule omits small mom-and-pop businesses, and excludes agricultural, railroad and airline employers. Federal labor law does not cover farm workers and a separate law covers the rail and airline workers. The notice must be posted in a second language if at least 20 percent of workers speak it.