Post your comments on new NLRB act by Feb. 22Published 4:29pm Tuesday, February 15, 2011
By TODD HIGEY / Guest Columnist
During the Great Depression, Congress enacted the National Labor Relations Act, enabling the National Labor Relations Board to regulate the relationship between management and labor.
Of particular concern was the need to resolve employment conflicts in industries that significantly affected the health and welfare of the nation, namely the steel industry, large manufacturers, coal mining companies and the like.
Strikes in these industries disrupted commerce and threatened the nation’s ability to function. Although the board’s authority extends to the majority of businesses in this country, it has historically focused upon big industry.
Now surprisingly, the board is encouraging employees of small businesses to exercise their rights under the act to unionize, collectively bargain, picket, strike, and engage in related pro-union activities.
To that end, the board will require businesses to post an extensive advisory notice.
So what’s the big deal? And why did it take 75 years for the board to propose this regulation?
Quite simply, the act doesn’t require employers to post a notice. Other laws, such as Title VII or the Americans with Disabilities Act, have always required employers to post notices informing employees of their rights under those statutes; however, when Congress enacted the NLRA, no employee notice was required.
In seeking to strike a healthy balance between employers and their employees, Congress deemed it unnecessary that the Board openly encourage employees to unionize. The resources and knowledge for taking advantage of the act were already present.
I urge anyone who owns or works for a small business to express your thoughts on this proposal by going to Regulations.gov and following the directions for posting comments.
The text of the proposed rule can be found at Nlrb.gov. The deadline for comments is Feb. 22.
Todd Higey is a labor and employment lawyer with the Shelby County firm of RichardsonClement PC. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.