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NLRB Proposes New Rule Requiring Employers to Notify Employees of Right to Unionize

December 21, 2010. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) today submitted a Notice of Proposed Rule-making which, if enacted, would require most private employers to display posters informing workers of their rights to organize, bargain collectively, and engage in other union activities without retaliation from the employer.
The proposed rule is similar to the notice posting requirement finalized by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) earlier this year, which applied only to federal contractors. The NLRB seeks to expand the scope of the DOL’s efforts to include all private-sector employers covered by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The proposed rule-making is now subject to a required 60-day comment period, after which it is anticipated to be enacted in full.
In its issued Notice of Proposed Rule-making, the NLRB described an intent to “increase knowledge of the NLRA among employees, to better enable the exercise of rights under the statute, and to promote statutory compliance by employers and unions.” To further these goals, the NLRB specifically set forth sanctions and remedies that may be imposed upon an employer that fails to comply with the new requirements. Particularly, the NLRB proposed the following to induce compliance:
                                    (1)           Failure to post the required notice will constitute an unfair labor practice;
                                    (2)           The six-month statute of limitations for filing unfair labor practice charges
                                    (3)           Willful failure to post the notice will constitute evidence of unlawful motive
in unfair labor practices cases.
The proposed notice, which must be at least 11 inches by 17 inches in size, contains a summary of employee rights established under the NLRA and examples of unlawful behavior under the NLRA. The notice must be posted in “conspicuous places, including all places where notices to employees are customarily placed.” Additionally, employers that normally communicate through e-mail or web postings must also transmit the notice through such channels. Employers with a significant number of employees who are not proficient in English will be required to post the notice in the language or languages spoken by significant numbers of those employees. The proposed poster can be found in the Appendix to Subpart A of the Notice of Proposed Rule-making.
If you are an employer concerned with compliance issues regarding the proposed rule-making, or are uncertain as to whether your workplace falls within the scope of the NLRA, please do not hesitate to call your attorney at Hill, Farrer & Burrill, LLP. We will be glad to assist you in the interpretation of the proposed rule-making, as well as ensuring compliance when the rule takes effect.