On Thursday, August 25, while most on the east coast were preparing for Hurricane Irene, the National Labor Relations Board issued a new rule. There are a few curious things about the rule, other than the rule itself.
First, the rule…all employers must now have government approved posters at their place of business advising workers that they have the right to unionize. And, if said employer communicates with its employees on an employer web site, then the employer must post this notice on their web site as well.
Now, on to the curiosities.
Typically, the NLRB doesn’t “rule” on anything unless there is a case involving that issue before the NLRB. Here, there was no such case. The new “rule” was unprompted by any labor/management controversy.
But, the justification for the rule is really bizarre.
The right to form a union is protected by the National Labor Relations Act. That was passed by Congress in 1935.
But, according to the NLRB,
[f]or employees to fully exercise their NLRA rights, however, they must know that those rights exist and that the Board protects those rights.
Huh? The National Labor Relations Act has been around for 76 years and no one knows about it?
Further, according to the NLRB, currently, there is a,
comparatively small percentage of private sector employees who are represented by unions.
That part is true. In 1954, 35% of private sector workers belonged to a union. Today, it is 6.9%. But, to suggest that union membership has declined because people are uninformed about their right to unionize is nothing short of ludicrous.
Employees don’t meet in the lunch room every day and wonder whether they can band together to “negotiate” a better deal with their employer. They feel they are lucky to have a job, and, don’t want to be forced to contribute their hard earned money to a union that ever increasingly seems to squander it on political contributions.
But, that’s just my opinion.