Thursday, December 27, 2007

Firms Can Bar Unions From E-mail-NLRB Kiss-Off to Battista

On the eve of his expiring term, the NLRB's Chairman Robert Battista offers a generous parting gift to anti-union employers and a cruel kiss-off to hard-working men and women.

Stephan Ostrach, union representative for Teamsters Local 206 in Eugene, called the decision another in a line of anti-union rulings from a panel whose majority was appointed by President Bush.

The National Labor Relations Board has ruled that employers have the right to prohibit workers from using the company's e-mail system to send out union-related messages, a decision that could hamper communications between labor unions and their membership.
In a 3-to-2 ruling on Friday[ 12/21/07], the labor board held that it was legal for employers to bar union-related e-mail so long as employers had a policy barring employees from sending e-mail for “non-job-related solicitations” for any outside organization.

The ruling is a significant setback to the nation’s labor unions, which argued that e-mail systems have become a modern-day gathering place where employees should be able to communicate freely with co-workers to discuss work-related matters of mutual concern.

The ruling involved The Register-Guard, a newspaper in Eugene, Ore., and e-mail messages sent in 2000 by Susi Prozanski, a newspaper employee who was president of the Newspaper Guild’s unit there. She sent an e-mail message about a union rally and two others urging employees to wear green to show support for the union’s position in contract negotiations.

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