Archive for the ‘Eye on the NLRB’ Category

Regis No Longer Able to Clip Away at Workers’ Rights

Workers received good news last week, as Regis Corp., a national hair salon chain, settled with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), agreeing to change a number of illegal corporate policies. Regis, which employs 57,000 workers at 6,500 outlets such as Supercuts, Cost Cutters, and Mastercuts, was found to have engaged in a number of actions in violation of the National Labor Relations Act, legislation on the books since 1935 designed to protect workers’ rights. Read more »


Update: Facebook’s role in the modern workplace

In October, we told you about the story of  Dawnmarie Souza,  an emergency medical technician fired for complaints about work that she wrote on Facebook. At the time, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) filed a complaint against Dawnmarie’s employer, American Medical Response of Connecticut, asserting that it interfered with protected activity.

On Monday, American Medical settled with the NLRB shortly before an admistrative law judge was to hear the case. The company agreed to correct its admittedly “overly broad” rules to ensure that workers’ right to concerted activity was protected – on and offline. Read more »


Facebook: the new watercooler?

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) broke new ground this week, filing a complaint against American Medical Response of Connecticut for firing an emergency medical technician who posted a criticism of her boss on her Facebook profile.

The NLRB’s decision comes at a time when employers are increasing their use of social networking websites to keep an eye on their workers—and prospective employees.

The company in question, an ambulance service provider, accused Dawnmarie Souza of violating a policy that prohibits workers from portraying the company “in any way” on social media websites like Facebook. Then they fired her. Read more »


Justice for garbage disposal workers in El Paso

Justice prevailed in El Paso, Texas yesterday. For the first time in 35 years, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of an NLRB injunction, which requires a garbage collection and disposal company to rehire 32 union-supporting employees.

In the fall of 2007, the employees of El Paso Disposal (EPD) went on strike after the company refused to bargain with their union, the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE). Within a week, EPD hired a team of strikebreakers to replace the union members. By December, the union offered to end the strike and return to work, but EPD refused to re-hire them. Read more »


The sweet, fizzy taste of victory

When tCoca-Cola logohe Sacramento Coca-Cola Bottling Company agreed to recognize their workers as union members, The Teamsters got a sweet, fizzy taste of victory.

The 310 workers at the Coca-Cola Bottling Company have been members of a small, independent union for over 40 years. But when they decided to merge with the larger Teamsters Local 150 back in April, the management at the factory refused to recognize their newly-affiliated union as a bargaining representative.

But now management has agreed to settle with the workers, only a week before the situation was to go before an administrative law judge from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). According to the settlement, the Coca-Cola Bottling Company must bargain in good faith with the Teamsters, process union grievances, and pay the union dues for which the employees had authorized payroll deduction. In other words, it’s got to follow the law.

Coca-Cola workers are not the only ones who achieved victory lately. Two weeks ago the Board ordered Regis Corporation, owners of salons like Cost Cutters and Master Cuts, to cease threatening to fire workers if they tried to join a union. They’re showing Big Business that workers’ have the right to organize and collectively bargain.


Regis Corporation: cutting away at workers’ rights

I’ve always had something of a haircut phobia. I’m always afraid it’s going to end up too short or too frizzy, or just plain bizarre (I still refuse to let my mom hang my high school graduation portrait—taken after one such incident). I’ve gone up to about three years without even getting a trim!

But now, beyond frizz and fly-aways, it looks like I really do have something to fear at the salon: unfair labor practices. Read more »


The system is broken

I recently attended “The National Labor Relations Act at 75: Its Legacy and Its Future,” a two-day symposium hosted by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the George Washington University Law School. Bringing together academics and practitioners, the conference allowed experts in law, economics, and sociology to mark the Act’s 75th birthday by considering its impact on America’s workers. In doing so, the conference was a unique opportunity to take stock of labor law in this country and discuss its (evolving?) role in the years to come.

Professor Richard Freeman, a noted labor economist from Harvard, set the theme for the entire event in the first panel. Borrowing from federal judge Abner Mikva, Freeman declared, “It is perhaps harsh and impolitic at the NLRA’s 75th birthday to declare that in 2010 the law no longer fits American economic reality and has become an anachronism irrelevant for most workers and firms. But that is the case.”

Presenters on later panels affirmed this conclusion with evidence that pointed to the struggles of workers trying to form unions and collectively bargain in today’s workplaces. The reality is that employers know they can fire and/or punish union supporters under the current NLRB elections process to send a message to their co-workers. And companies can require managers to warn subordinates about the ‘dangers’ of forming a union in mandatory meetings – even when the supervisors prefer to remain neutral.

As Georgetown law professor Michael Gottesman noted, the status quo makes it economically rational for employers to break the law.

Read more »


Long-overdue updates come to the NLRB

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has held the authority to enforce the National Labor Relations Act since 1935, and little has changed since that time. Unscrupulous employers were breaking the law then, and they’re still union busting today. But we’ve seen the Board’s ability to effectively enforce the Act weaken as the nature of work changed and employer tactics became more sophisticated.

Fortunately, in a pair of decisions made public yesterday, the NLRB issued long-needed updates to two remedial mechanisms—electronic notice posting of unfair labor practices and compound daily interest on back pay. Both remedies are routinely used in cases where the NLRB finds that a party violated the National Labor Relations Act.

Read more »


Fighting for a voice at El Vocero

Newspapers are supposed to report the news, not be in the news. But Puerto Rico’s Spanish-language newspaper El Vocero made headlines last week when Michael A. Rosas, an administrative judge for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), found the paper guilty of firing 107 employees in an extreme act of unionbusting.

The owners of the paper said that the paper’s growing debts and a shrinking readership brought about the lay-offs. In reality, the company’s income rose in 2009. Read more »


Betting on Workers’ Rights

The employees of the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut took a gamble. After being denied the ability to have an honest vote for union representation, the workers, including bartenders and beverage servers, appealed to the NLRB and had their first official election last Saturday.

The owners of the Foxwoods Casino claimed that since the casino belongs to the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, the workers should be governed by tribal laws.  But in 2004 the NLRB asserted its jurisdiction over tribal businesses, after casinos were noted to be using unfair labor practices. Previously, the Foxwoods counted people who chose to abstain from union elections as “no” votes.

And the gamble? It paid off. Read more »