Outten & Golden: Empowering Employees in the Workplace

NLRB Says Workers Need to Know Their Rights

August 26th, 2011 | Mike Hall

Image: Mike HallThe National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a new and simple rule today. It says employers must display an  11 by 17 inch poster informing workers of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act, where they usually post notices to let workers know their rights.

Saying he applauded the new rule, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says:

Just as employers are required to notify their employees of their rights around health and safety, wages and discrimination on the job, this rule gives clear information to employees about their rights under this fundamental labor law so that workers are better equipped to exercise and enforce them.

Yet from the reaction of the Big Business, the notice is just a step away from the NLRB giving workers the right to drag employers into the street and beat them severely about the head and shoulders.

Keep in mind, this is a just a poster.

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) calls it an “unprecedented overreach of its authority… a punitive new rule…a new low…a trap for millions of businesses.”

It’s just a poster.

Peter Schaumber, a former NLRB chairman appointed by former President George W. Bush, told Bloomberg News, “It’s arbitrary, it’s capricious.”

It’s just a poster.

On the right-wing website GOPUSA the new rule is “another disgusting government intrusion into private business.”

It’s just a poster.  Just a poster similar to the ones the Department of Labor requires the thousands and thousands of federal contractors to post.

The NLRB says employers will not  be required to distribute the notice via e-mail, voice mail, text messaging or related electronic communications “even if they customarily communicate with their employees in that manner and they may post notices in black and white as well as in color.”

All it needs to say is that employees have the right to act together to improve wages and working conditions, to form, join and assist a union, to bargain collectively with their employer. It also must say, “employees may refrain from any of these activities.” Pretty even handed, huh?

BTW, it won’t cost employers a penny because the NLRB will provide copies for free or employers can download it.

This blog originally appeared in AFL-CIO Now on August 25, 2011. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Mike Hall- I’m a former West Virginia newspaper reporter, staff writer for the United Mine Workers Journal and managing editor of the Seafarers Log. I came to the AFL- CIO in 1989 and have written for several federation publications, focusing on legislation and politics, especially grassroots mobilization and workplace safety. When my collar was still blue, I carried union cards from the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers, American Flint Glass Workers and Teamsters for jobs in a chemical plant, a mining equipment manufacturing plant and a warehouse. I’ve also worked as roadie for a small-time country-rock band, sold my blood plasma and played an occasional game of poker to help pay the rent. You may have seen me at one of several hundred Grateful Dead shows. I was the one with longhair and the tie-dye. Still have the shirts, lost the hair.

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