It is Christmas time for employers with cases before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). This week the board decided to issue rulings challenging several pro-workers and pro-union Obama year regulations.
One case decided this week challenged whether an employer was required to collect union dues after a contract expired. Since 2015, employers have been required to abide by the dues collection agreement that was laid out in the expired collective bargaining agreement. You can imagine what a logistical nightmare it would be for a union to have to switch dues collection every time a contract run out and it gives the employer an incentive to wait out the clock and potentially prevent the union from collecting all of their dues. However Trump’s NLRB didn’t see the benefit and instead struck down the Obama era regulation.
The NLRB also took up a case regarding the Obama-era rule that sped up union elections. The rule shortened the time that a boss could delay an election after employees filed to be represented by a union. The rule was supported by unions as it cut down on the time that a boss could run an anti-union campaign. However, Trump’s NLRB didn’t like that and instead issued a new rule that will take effect in April of 2020. The new rule will add give the employer more time to meet deadlines, like handing over a database of eligible employees to vote, and will allow the bosses more hearings to further slow down the election. They will also give regional boards more latitude in approving deadline extensions, meaning that bosses can continually file for extensions and slow the process down even more. “The new procedures will allow workers to be informed of their rights and will simplify the representation process to the benefit of all parties,” said Chairman John F. Ring. Of course, when Ring talks about informing workers of their rights he means that there will be more time for employers to bring in union-busting attorneys and more time to fire employees who are leading the organizing effort.
The board also issued a ruling to reestablish the right of an employer to block certain non-work related emails from being sent to work email addresses. The case was filed by Caesars Entertainment, Rio All-Suites and Casino, who wanted to ban their employees from using their work email addresses for anything that was non-work related. The board said that the employers have the right to control the use of their equipment, including email and IT resources, as long as they don’t discriminate against one group of workers. For unions this means that they would have to collect all of their members or prospective members email addresses and would not be able to use a list of work emails to contact the workers. While it may seem small, this could have a huge impact on an organizing drive at a large employer like the Rio where the union would now have to collect thousands of email addresses to be able to email the staff. Plus, what does it cost the employer to host a few small emails?
These decisions are just another move by the Trump controlled NLRB to rollback workers and unions' rights. With Trump facing impeachment and record-low poll numbers Trump’s NLRB may be trying to get all of the Obama era changes rolled back before their boss retires to Mar a Lago.