The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has proposed a new rule that would require nearly all employers to post notices at their facilities describing employees' right to unionize. The NLRB press release describes some details of the proposed rule. The new posters will have to be posted where other required employment notices are posted, and will also have to be sent electronically to employees if the employer primarily communicates through email. The proposed rule is subject to a sixty day public comment period, so compliance won't be required until the period expires in late February, 2011.
Most private sector employees fall under the jurisdiction of the NLRB and will be required to post, no matter the size of the company or the number of employees. The posting itself will look very similar to the one required for government contractors under an Executive Order issued by the Obama Administration earlier this year. In addition to detailing the right to unionize, the poster will also list examples of actions by employers (and unions) that violate the law.
This new rule will create many potential problems for employers who fail to comply. Unions or employees could file unfair labor practice charges, forcing the employer to defend itself before the NLRB, and ultimately be forced to post another notice to employees announcing that it will not violate employee's rights. This could be used for propaganda purposes during a union organizing campaign, or as evidence to support other charges against the employer. Alternatively, a union trying to organize could use the failure to post as an objection to overturn the results of an election won by the employer.
This is just the first of many expected changes to NLRB rules to help unions organize. The new union controlled majority on the Board will also likely reduce the period of time prior to a union election from the current 42 days to somewhere between 21 and 10 days, which will limit the ability of companies to effectively respond. There also may be new rules changing the union election procedure and giving unions access rights to non-union workplaces.