For years I have been a member of seminar planning committees, and inevitably the talk gets round to an NLRA topic. In Texas, that usually meets groans and comments to the effect that no one is really interested because very few practitioners actually deal with union related matters.
Inevitably, one solution was to title the program slot, something along the lines, The NLRA for the Non-union Company. And while that often at least made the program, it was still hard to generate much enthusiasm.
However, the current Board seems intent on getting out the message that indeed concerted activity, not just union activity, is what is protected, including today’s launch of a web page describing Protected Concerted Activity, complete with state by state links to cases where the Board has found such activity.
For example, clicking that link and the button located prominently in Texas, pulls up 16-CA-025349:
A supervisor at a dental association was fired after she refused to divulge the names of employees who had anonymously signed a petition protesting top management. The Board found the discharge was unlawful because she had rightfully refused to violate federal labor law by punishing concerted activity. In a settlement, the supervisor and another former employee waived reinstatement in exchange for $900,000 in lost wages and benefits.
It will not take too many stories of that nature to get the word out.
That’s a far cry from what life was back in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. I can’t remember the exact date, but I was in the San Antonio office of the NLRB waiting to see some one and the phone rang. The secretary answered the phone, and sitting right across from her I could tell that it was an employee calling with a possible complaint. After listening a moment, she asked, “Is there a union involved?” and obviously getting a negative response, hung up the phone with a “Well, we only handle matters where there are unions.”
Oh how times have changed.