Some might assume that nonunion workplaces cannot be affected by the rulings of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) but that is simply not the case. One easy way for the Board to extend its jurisdiction is to redefine certain activity in the context of a unionization campaign.
The Wall Street Journal editorial board notes how NLRB Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon has helped shift the definition of “concerted activity” by condemning class action lawsuit limitations in a company’s arbitration agreement and considering social media interactions under that same rule. “[C]oncerted activities,” found in Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), are defined in the context of employees intending to engage in collective bargaining or other collective action.
Solomon’s definition isn’t how it was supposed to be, according to the editors:
Lawmakers worried at the time that companies would impose work rules dissuading employees from communicating about a union. “Protected concerted activity” ensured that employees could freely gather around the proverbial water cooler. Yet as workplaces modernized and workers obtained other protections, successful complaints about violations of “concerted activity” became rare.
The much-awaited Roundy’s decision
Not long after the faux-recess appointments were made to the Board last year, the NLRB has made it clear that it would focus on concerted activity. The NLRB is following through and grabbing more power as it goes along.