Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

With Court Blessing, NLRB Keeps Up Union-Friendly Rulings

Earlier this month, a judge ruled that private businesses are required to display posters showing workers how to unionize. With the ruling going into effect on April 30, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has plans for a big campaign around the change.

Notably, the mandated poster doesn’t explain how to decertify a union—a right which many workers also might like to know. But details like that don’t trouble the NLRB. Apparently, it’s busy concentrating on getting nonunionized workers to think like union members:

The National Labor Relations Board will focus on workers’ rights to engage in ‘protected concerted activity,’ which allow two or more employees to take action for their mutual aid or protection […]. In the next two weeks, the NLRB is set to roll out a Web page explaining ‘concerted activity’ and highlighting cases involving unlawful punishment for it. It also plans pamphlets in English and Spanish that will be distributed through worker-advocacy groups and sister federal agencies, such as the Labor Department. NLRB officials will address the issue in speeches and appearances on radio and television. (The Wall Street Journal, 3/22/12)

These developments come on the heels of the NLRB’s controversial “quickie elections” rule, which the Retail Industry Leaders Association calls a blow not only to “employers’ free speech and due process rights” but also “American business’ ability to grow jobs.”

The NLRB has had no difficulty making these moves despite the Obama administration’s recent order to avoid overly burdensome requirements. While the White House denies that it’s encouraging overregulation, the NLRB is swinging into action—an institution with a very particular idea of what labor relations should be, and unafraid to tip the scales in order to make it reality.

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