Will the Obama NLRB Force Employers to Allow Unions to Use their Email Systems?

 
Tuesday, September 4, 2012
 
The NLRB has been on a rampage lately by using the NLRA Section 7 right to engage in “concerted activities . . . for mutual aid or protection” to find employer policies concerning:  1) employment at will, 2) social media policies, and 3) confidentiality of workplace investigations to be improper under Section 7.

Next the Board likely will be evaluating whether employer email systems should be available for unions to distribute information to its members or potential members. In Roundy’s Inc., the Board is expected to revisit the decision of Register Guard, 351 NLRB 1110 (2007), that an employer may prohibit employees from using its work e-mail system for non-work related purposes.

The Board is expected to overrule Register Guard and declare that blanket prohibitions on using work e-mail for personal reasons violates Section 7 because e-mail is such an effective tool for communicating with other employees about organizing and for engaging in other concerted activities.  

This obviously raises the question of whether the Board will be infringing on the property rights of employers by forcing them to allow unions to use their email system.  This decision may help us see how far the Obama NLRB will take its view of Section 7 rights.
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