Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Do you know? Mandatory union posting for federal contractors

File this story under just because the Employee Free Choice Act is temporarily dead does not mean that the Obama administration cannot impact the rights of labor unions.

If you are a federal contractor with $100,000 or more in federal contracts, or a federal subcontractor with $10,000 or more, a new federal regulation is going to require you to make a pretty scary posting in your workplace.

On January 30, 2009, President Obama signed Executive Order 13496 [pdf], which requires federal contractors to notify their employees of their rights under federal labor laws. The DOL recently issues its regulations implementing this Executive Order [pdf], along with the notice that must be posted. The mandatory notice lists employees’ rights under the National Labor Relations Act to form, join, and support a union and to bargain collectively with their employer; provides examples of unlawful employer and union conduct that interferes with those rights; and indicates how employees can contact the National Labor Relations Board with questions or to file complaints. In other words, it’s a roadmap for how non-union employees can form a union.

The notice must be posted in paper form along with other federal and state employment law postings. It also must be posted electronically if other notices are similarly posted. Electronic posting, however, cannot be used as a substitute for the physical posting. The language of the posting also must be inserted into all federal contracts and subcontracts.

Employees may file complaints with the Department of Labor about contractors and subcontractors who do not comply. Contractors found to be in violation may have existing contracts suspended or cancelled, may be debarred from future federal contracts and subcontracts, and may be included on a list published to all executive agencies listing the names of contractors and subcontractors declared ineligible for future contracts.

A copy of the required posting is available as a PDF from the Department of Labor. This posting is mandatory for all but the smallest federal contractors beginning on June 21, 2010.

If you are required to make this posting, consider taking the following counterbalancing measures, all of which legally help combat unionizing efforts:

  • Examine your wages, benefits, and overall treatment of employees for fairness and competitiveness.

  • Review (or implement) a no-solicitation/no-distribution policy.

  • Educate employees on the company’s formal position on labor unions, including their right not to form a union.

  • Train managers and supervisors on the company’s stance on unions, how to spot potential organizing efforts, and how to respond to employees’ questions and concerns.

Presented by Kohrman Jackson & Krantz, with offices in Cleveland and Columbus. For more information, contact Jon Hyman, a partner in our Labor & Employment group, at (216) 736-7226 or jth@kjk.com.