On April 17, 2012, in response to an emergency motion, the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued an injunction blocking the National Labor Relations Board from implementing its notice posting rule, which was set to go into effect at the end of the month. The D.C. Circuit’s order follows on the heels of a South Carolina opinion striking the posting rule as beyond the scope of the Board’s authority.

As a result of the court’s injunction, employers are relieved from having to comply with the notice posting rule until the conclusion of the appeal. While the appeal is on an expedited schedule, a decision is not expected until September 2012 at the earliest.
Continue Reading NLRB Notice Posting Saga Continues: Federal Court Blocks Board’s Rule

The National Labor Relations Board’s (“NLRB”) aggressive campaign to educate non-union employees about their rights under the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) is in full swing.

In addition to the mandatory notice posting requirement that will go into effect for all employers on April 30, the NLRB recently announced its plan to launch a new website designed to educate both union and non-union employees about their rights under the NLRA. These rights include the rights to discuss working conditions and to present grievances to their employers. Under the NLRA, employees have a right to engage in such “protected concerted activity,” even when they are not union employees or involved in union organizing efforts.
Continue Reading NLRB to Expand Outreach Campaign Targeting Nonunion Employees

You may recall a prior entry on our blog detailing the National Labor Relations Board’s Acting General Counsel’s first social media report. The Acting General Counsel’s second report was issued just six months later, which highlights how quickly the issues surrounding social media in the workplace are developing. It is important for private sector employers to remember that the National Labor Relations Act applies, whether or not employees are represented by a union.
Continue Reading Second Verse: Worse Than the First!

This post was contributed by Bruce D. Bagley, Esq., a Member in McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC’s Labor and Employment Law Practice Group.

As readers of this blog may recall, on August 30, 2011, the National Labor Relations Board (Board) issued its Final Rule, “Notification of Employee Rights under the National Labor Relations

Recently, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania issued an interesting decision involving the appeal of a grievance arbitration decision filed by a Commonwealth Agency – the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. The decision, Department of Corrections v. Pa. State Corrections Officers’ Association (pdf), offers unionized employers a reminder of the difficult hurdle that they face when appealing a grievance arbitration decision. But the decision also demonstrates that such appeals can be successful.

The decision resolved a conflict between the Department and the union that represents the Department’s corrections officers regarding how positions, or posts, would be filled at state correctional facilities. The union was seeking to have all (or nearly all) posts be designated as “bid posts.” A bid post is one where, upon vacancy, the position would be filled according to a seniority bidding procedure that, in effect, left the choice to the officers. The Department, on the other hand, was trying to limit the number of bid posts so as to retain its right to assign employees to posts at its discretion. Bid posts had been a point of contention between the parties for some time and had been the subject of many prior disputes. In the past, the individual correctional facilities were left to determine through negotiations with the local union which posts would be designated as bid posts at the particular institution. This approach lead to a great deal of inconsistency in the designation of bid posts across the Department.

The parties continued to struggle over the bid post designation, and eventually an arbitrator defined the criteria to be used to designate jobs as "bid post" positions. The arbitrator’s definition of bid post was incorporated into the parties’ 2008-2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement (“CBA”). The CBA also directed the parties to review all existing posts and mutually determine whether each post satisfied the arbitrator’s definition for a bid post. Not surprisingly, the parties could not agree on the application of the definition to the posts. In fact, the parties were unable to reach agreement on a single post designation. To break the logjam, the parties again turned to an arbitrator, who was asked to review every post in every correctional facility to determine whether it was a bid post.

This second arbitrator reviewed every post and, applying the original arbitrator’s definition, determined which posts would be bid by seniority. Interestingly, the arbitrator ordered that any post that previously had been designated as a bid post at the local level, whether it met the new definition or not, was also to remain a bid post. As this approach significantly increased the number of bid posts, the Department appealed this portion of the arbitrator’s decision to the Commonwealth Court. On appeal, the Department argued that the arbitrator, by grandfathering the bid post designation for certain posts regardless of whether they met the new definition, contradicted the language of the CBA.

Those with experience in grievance arbitration know that attempting to overturn an arbitrator’s decision can seem nearly impossible.

Continue Reading Appealing an Arbitration Decision – A Success Story

On December 23, 2011, the National Labor Relations Board announced that it had agreed to again postpone the effective date of its controversial Employee Notice Posting Rule. In the news release announcing the postponement, the Board confirmed that the postponement was agreed to at the request of a federal court in Washington, D.C., which is hearing one of the legal challenges to the Notice Posting requirement.

On October 6, 2011, we discussed the requirements of the Notice Posting Rule and the Board’s announcement that it was delaying the implementation date for the Notice Posting Rule until January 31, 2012. The Notice Posting Rule will now become effective on April 30, 2012, if the challenges to the Rule are unsuccessful.
Continue Reading NLRB Again Postpones Employee Notice Rule’s Effective Date

On November 30, 2011, by a vote of 2-1, a bitterly divided National Labor Relations Board (Board) resolved to move forward with some, but decidedly not all, of the procedural changes it had proposed on June 22. While the Board’s Democratic majority referenced its desire to reduce “unnecessary, expensive, and time-consuming litigation for the Board and all parties,” the dissenting Republican Member, and most observers, have more accurately described the measure as another effort to shorten the time from the filing of an election petition to the date of the election. This would make it more difficult for employers to communicate with employees prior to the vote, and make it easier for unions to win more elections (although unions are already winning elections at a historically high rate of around 70%!).
Continue Reading NLRB Votes To Change Union Election Procedures (But Doesn’t Go All The Way!)

Recently, a National Labor Relations Board (Board) Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) found that an employee who was discharged for posts he made on his Facebook page was not discharged in violation of the National Labor Relations Act. In Knauz Motors, Inc., the ALJ found that the employee’s Facebook posts contained both protected and non-protected activity, but that the employee was terminated for only the non-protected activity. As a result, the ALJ refused to find that the employee’s discharge was unlawful.

Interestingly, when the terminated employee was confronted by management with the Facebook posts, the employee reacted as many employees may react. He stated that his Facebook page was “none of [their] business.” However, while it may appear that the Board will go to great lengths to protect employee social media activity, not all employee social media activity is protected by the National Labor Relations Act. Some employee posts may, in fact, be an employer’s business.
Continue Reading NLRB Administrative Law Judge Issues Another Social Media Decision

In August, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a controversial Final Rule that would require most private-sector employers to notify their employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act with a new mandatory workplace poster. The rule’s effective date originally was November 14, 2011.

On October 5, 2011, the NLRB announced that it was delaying the implementation date for the notice-posting rule until January 31, 2012. The NLRB claimed that it postponed the deadline “in the interest of ensuring broad voluntary compliance.” Other reports indicate that the NLRB postponed the implementation date in response to a specific request to do so by the Judge in one of the pending cases challenging the rule.
Continue Reading NLRB Postpones Employee Notification Rule’s Effective Date