May 15, 2014
Last summer we flooded congressional offices with calls, e-mails and petition signatures, telling our lawmakers, "Give Us 5!" We won.
Now, nearly a year later, we see why a full strength National Labor Relations Board is so important. In its most recent move, the NLRB is reconsidering whether an employer can stop workers from using the company e-mail system for organizing. And it's a big deal for CWAers.
The case in question involves Purple Communications, which employs interpreters for the deaf and hard of hearing, who are represented by TNG-CWA Local 3952. Last October, an administrative law judge workers' claim that the company's e-mail policy unlawfully restricted their right to discuss their jobs and stuck by a Bush-era NLRB decision that said CWA-represented newsroom employees at The Register Guard had "no statutory right" to use their employer's e-mail system for Section 7 purposes. Read that decision here.
Now the NLRB is saying – hold on, let's think about it some more. It's also asking interested groups to weigh in on related electronic communications questions:
- Do employees' personal electronic devices (e.g., phones, tablets), social media accounts, and/or personal email accounts affect the proper balance to be struck between employers' rights and employees' Section 7 rights to communicate about work-related matters? If so, how?
- Identify any other technological issues concerning email or other electronic communications systems that the Board should consider in answering the foregoing questions, including any relevant changes that may have occurred in electronic communications technology since Register Guard was decided. How should these affect the Board's decision?
Stay tuned, and check out the case. This is about to get interesting.