Reminder – New Labor Poster Requirement Delayed to January 31, 2012
A recently-issued National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) final rule requires most private-sector employers—even those without union employees—to notify employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) by posting a form notice by January 31, 2012.
The rule had previously been scheduled to become effective on November 14, 2011, but was postponed by the NLRB purportedly to allow more time to educate employers; however, some believe the delay may also have been in reaction to some recent attempts by business organizations and trade groups to enjoin enforcement and/or otherwise dispute the issuance of the rule. Given the minimal impact on resources, we recommend credit unions plan for compliance—it can always remove the poster if and when the rule is revoked or otherwise becomes not applicable.
COVERED EMPLOYERS: Both state and federal credit unions are covered by the new NLRB rule; however, certain very small credit unions may not be within the NLRB’s jurisdiction (e.g., those with a gross annual volume of business of less than $500,000).
CONTENT: The notice, which can be printed or downloaded from the NLRB’s website (http://www.nlrb.gov/poster), advises employees about their labor rights, including that employees have the right to organize a union to negotiate with their employer about wages, hours, or working conditions; to form or assist a union; to discuss the terms and conditions of their employment or union organizing with their coworkers or union representatives; to take action with coworkers to improve their working conditions; to strike and picket; to bargain collectively; and also the right to choose not to do any of these activities.
The notice also advises employees that it is illegal for their employer to engage in various activities to encourage or discourage union activities or union support, and that certain union actions, like threats, coercion, or discrimination against employees based on support or membership in the union, are also illegal. The notice provides contact information for the NLRB.
WHERE AND HOW: The notice, which can be printed in either black & white or color, is designed to be printed on one 11-by-17-inch page (or two 8 ½ -by-11-inch pages), and must be posted in “conspicuous” places, including all places where notices to employees are customarily posted. Employers are obligated under the new rule to take reasonable steps to ensure that the notices are not altered, defaced, covered, or otherwise rendered unreadable.
ONLINE POLICIES: Credit unions that maintain an intranet or internet website where they regularly post policies or communicate personnel rules should note that they will also be required to post the new NLRB notice electronically on that site. This can be accomplished by either posting the notice itself or a link to the notice on the NLRB’s website (see link above).
OTHER LANGUAGES: If more than 20% of your workforce is not proficient in English and speaks another language, the employer must provide the notice in that language. The NLRB will provide translations of the notice.
PENALTIES FOR NON-COMPLIANCE: While the NLRB will not audit workplaces or initiate fines or enforcement actions on its own, if a failure to post the notice is brought to the NLRB’s attention, it is technically an independent violation of the NLRA (one of the issues currently being contested by opponents of the rule). Practically speaking, we expect the NLRB would drop the issue once an employer promptly complies. However, the final rule permits the NLRB to extend the 6-month statute of limitations for filing a charge involving other unfair labor practice allegations against the employer (and willful noncompliance would be considered evidence of unlawful motive).