No Union, No Worries? Not So Fast!

Submitted by Firm:
Cross, Gunter, Witherspoon & Galchus, P.C.
Firm Contacts:
Abtin Mehdizadegan, J. Bruce Cross, Misty Wilson Borkowski

Recent landmark decisions and heightened activity at the National Labor Relations Board create an unprecedented union-friendly environment for employers to navigate. (If this is where you would normally stop reading, because your company is not unionized so none of this "labor stuff" applies to your workplace - think again!). These decisions and activity include:

  • The Ambush Election Rule, which drastically reduces the amount of time employers have to prepare for union representation elections from 40 days to as little as 10 days. The new Rule went into effect April 14.
  • The NLRB recently ruled that all employees who have been granted access to company email for work have a statutory right to use their employer's email system for protected, non-business related activity during non-working time. In other words, unions may be able to use your own email system to organize your employees.
  • The NLRB is also cracking down on common employment policies, such as social media, confidentiality, professionalism and anti-harassment, finding many employers' handbook language "overly broad" and restrictive of employees' rights to engage in protected concerted activity. In March, the NLRB's General Counsel issued much-anticipated guidance to assist employers in crafting policies and rules that will not be deemed unlawful by the NLRB (at least for now).

These milestone changes, coupled with other activity including the evolution of micro-bargaining units, have altered the labor landscape for unions and employers.