When the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) died in Congress, many observers predicted the Obama administration's efforts to help unions organize workers would shift to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), where the president had installed a pro-union majority.
Two December 2010 developments at the NLRB indicate that process is underway. The board proposed a rule that would require all employers covered by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)--an estimated 6 million businesses--to post a notice detailing employees' rights under the act. Critics say it is worded to encourage workers to file unfair labor practice charges against their employers. And the board's acting general counsel urged regional offices to seek enhanced penalties in conjunction with requests for injunctive relief for alleged violations of the act during an organizing campaign (see "Injunction Instructions").
The proposed posting rule marks the first time in the 75-year history of the NLRB that all covered employers would be required to post a notice. In the past, NLRB notices were limited to remedies: Employers found by the courts to have engaged in an unfair labor practice could be required to post a notice to employees for a period of time.
Employers' counsel object to the wording on the proposed poster, which they say promotes unionization.
The proposed rule adds a new unfair labor practices charge for failure to comply with the posting requirement, with sanctions including extending the statute of limitations for employees to file charges against the employer. The failure to post could also be considered as evidence of unlawful motive in unfair labor practice cases.