Wednesday, June 27, 2012

NLRB protects rights of all workers – union or not

The National Labor Relations Board protects workers' rights whether they're in a union or not. Recently the labor board launched a new webpage showing how it safeguards concerted activity, which is employees working together for mutual aid or protection. The NLRB's new web page features a map with markers that tell the story of workers unlawfully disciplined by their bosses for activity protected under Section 7 of the 1935 National Labor Relations Act.

Recent cases settled by the labor board include:
A construction crew fired after refusing to work in the rain near exposed electrical wires; a customer service representative who lost her job after discussing her wages with a coworker; an engineer at a vegetable packing plant fired after reporting safety concerns affecting other employees; a paramedic fired after posting work-related grievances on Facebook; and poultry workers fired after discussing their grievances with a newspaper reporter.
More than 5 percent of the NLRB’s caseload involved group activity by non-union workers. The new page includes examples of workers fired for posting grievances about work on social media sites, including Facebook and YouTube.

After the page was launched last week, employment law blogs quickly tried to diminish the agency’s efforts. One blog called it “great marketing” designed to “target non-unionized employees.”

No surprise there. Corporations hate the idea of employees knowing their rights under the law. So when one of the top government agencies charged with protecting those rights raises awareness among workers, the bosses call it a cynical PR stunt.

NLRB Chairman Mark Gaston explains:
A right only has value when people know it exists. We think the right to engage in protected concerted activity is one of the best kept secrets of the National Labor Relations Act, and more important than ever in these difficult economic times. Our hope is that other workers will see themselves in the cases we’ve selected and understand that they do have strength in numbers.