Showing posts with label labor relations. Show all posts
Showing posts with label labor relations. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

If your surveilling employees, the NLRB is watching you

Wearable trackers. Security cameras. GPS trackers. Keyloggers. Live webcam monitoring. Technology has made it easier for employers to monitor and manage their employees' productivity and discipline employees who fall short of expectations. Moreover, technology makes it possible for employers to continue tracking employees after the workday ends via employer-issued cellphone or wearable devices, and apps installed in employees' own devices.  

Employers are monitoring employees, and the NLRB is monitoring employers' use of these monitoring technologies.

NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo just issued a memo on Electronic Monitoring and Algorithmic Management of Employees Interfering with the Exercise of Section 7 Rights.

Monday, October 31, 2022

Are unions cool (again)?

Are unions cool again? Were they ever cool? 

On the most recent episode of Good Morning, HR, I sat down with host Mike Coffey to discuss the current wave of unionization that is sweeping the nation.
  • The main factors causing a renewed focus on unionization.
  • How Gen-Z has been energized to pursue safe and fair workplace environments.
  • The signs that employees are ready to unionize.
  • The best way that employers can avoid unionization.
  • Actions employers should take when faced with an organization effort.
  • The limits of employers and organizers during a union campaign.
You can listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, on the Good Morning, HR website, and everywhere else you get your podcasts. You can even watch on YouTube.

To whet your appetite, here's a quick tease. I answer the question, "What should the employer do when they first get wind that there's card collection activity going on?"

Monday, October 24, 2022

This is what buyers’ remorse looks like

On May 9, 2022, the baristas working at the Starbucks store located at 1123 NW 63rd St., Nichols Hills, OK 73116 voted 10-9 to unionize. It was the first unionized Starbucks in the State of Oklahoma.

On the heels of the "victory," Collin Pollitt, the barista that led the unionization movement in that region, said this: "Today, we have become true partners in our organizing for a more just labor structure, where workers have a say in their workplace and earn a baseline living wage. We have reined in corporate power, and we carry on the banner of Martin Luther King Jr. with the idea that all labor has dignity."

A mere 163 days later, however, it appears that the store's employees have caught a case of buyer's remorse, as they have filed a decertification petition with the National Labor Relations Board. Unfortunately for them, however, whether they still want to be unionized or not, their petition and decertification effort is doomed to fail, and they will be stuck with their union, at least until May 9, 2023.

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Unions: fad or trend?

Last Friday I joined my good friend Eric Meyer via Zoom on his weekly Employer Handbook Zoom Office Happy Hour. Our topic: whether the recent rise in union popularity and success is a fad or a trend

If you missed it live, you can watch the video replay via The Employer Handbook YouTube Channel.

And if you're the kind of person who wants to hear more of my voice (and who isn't?), then please check out this week's episode of The Norah and Dad Show, the podcast I co-host with my daughter. It's available via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Overcast, Amazon Music, Stitcher, the web, and everywhere else you find podcasts.

Monday, October 17, 2022

Jousting over union names and trademarks

One of the trends that has come through in the recent wave of unionization is the use by labor unions of corporate names and logos in their branding.

📦 Amazon Labor Union
☕ Starbucks Workers United
📱 Apple Retail Union
⚔️ Medieval Times Performers United

It's the latter that has caught the ire of the employer (Medieval Times), which has now filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against the union.

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Ex-Starbucks manager throws employer under the bus for its alleged anti-union retaliation

"I didn't want to do illegal stuff. I've worked my entire life to build up a career of integrity, and I was not going to allow Starbucks to take that from me."

That's what David Almond, the former manager of several of Buffalo-area Starbucks told an NLRB administrative law judge earlier year, according to information received by Bloomberg pursuant to its Freedom of Information Act request.

What "illegal stuff?" 

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Why employees are quitting might also tell you why they are unionizing

Why are employees quitting their jobs? StandOutCV (as reported by TLNT) wanted to know the answer, so it analyzed 2,698 recent social media posts where someone revealed the specific reason(s) for their resignation.

Here are the top 10 results.

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Is a labor union liable for damages caused by its members during a strike

Suppose your employees walk off the job in protest of stalled negotiations over a new collective bargaining agreement. Further suppose that their union (allegedly) coordinates the strike with the precise time your concrete is being mixed and delivered for the day, causing the destruction of your product.

Can you hold the union liable under state law for their alleged tortious conduct?

According to the State of Washington's Supreme Court, the answer is "no."

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Show this story to your employees who start clamoring for a union

When a labor union is engaged in organizing your employees, you are allowed to present facts to your employees to attempt to convince them to vote union "no." Here's a big ol' fact for you to file away if the need ever arises.

Monday, September 19, 2022

The NLRB is inching towards Weingarten Rights for all employees

In NLRB v. J. Weingarten, Inc., the U.S. Supreme Court held that employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement are entitled to request the presence of a union representative during an investigatory interview that the employee reasonably believes may result in disciplinary action. 

In the 47 years post-Weingarten, however, the Board has vacillated on the issue of whether those rights also extend to non-union employees. For example, in 2000, in Epilepsy Foundation of Northeast Ohio, the Clinton-era Board found that employees in non-union settings have Weingarten rights to a coworker representative during investigatory interviews. More recently, however, the Bush-era Board, in IBM Corp., concluded the exact opposite, that, in light of certain policy considerations, the Board would no longer find that employees in non-union workplaces have the right to a coworker representative. Finally, in 2017, an Obama-era Board Advice Memo called for the Board to flip again and hold Weingarten rights extend to employees in non-union workplaces.

Which brings us to last week's Board decision in Troy Grove

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Like herpes, the NLRB’s efforts to liberalize its joint employer standard just won’t go away

Joint employment under the NLRA has a tortured history over the past seven years. 

Yesterday, the NLRB released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to rewrite the standard for determining joint-employer status under the National Labor Relations Act.

Under the current joint employer standard — to which the NLRB adhered until the Browning-Ferris decision in Aug. 2015, and to which it formally reverted in Apr. 2020 — one employer is only a joint employer with another employer if it possesses and exercises "substantial direct and immediate control" over the terms and conditions of employment of another employer's employees.

Joint employment matters … a lot … because if you're a joint employer over the employees of another employer you are jointly and severally liable for the legal wrongs committed by the primary employer. Under the NLRA you also would share collective bargaining responsibility.

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Checking the pulse of the American worker on labor unions as we enter Labor Day Weekend

The following stats should be eye-opening for any business owner, CEO, or board of directors.
  • 71 percent of Americans "approve" of labor unions, the highest reported approval rating since 1965.
  • 70 percent of non-union employees say that they would consider joining a union, up 141% in just three years.
  • Unions win approximately 75 percent of all representation elections.

What does all of these stats mean? If a union organizer starts talking to your employees about unionizing, the odds are high that your business will end up unionized. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Pizza shop closure is a teachable lesson on union avoidance

We are truly heartbroken to announce that we've made the difficult decision to permanently close both Knead Slice Shop and Knead Market effective immediately (August 23, 2022), regardless of the outcome or the occurrence of the requested union election.

We respect the right of workers to organize under the National Labor Relations Act or other appropriate laws. We hope our workers will recognize our related right as an employer, especially a small employer, during these extremely difficult operational times, to close our entire business operation.

We continue to wish our employees well. 

That's what a pizza shop posted to its Instagram last week, announcing its decision to shutter all of its operations, permanently.

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

NLRB re-writes law on employees displaying union logos at work

Tesla's General Assembly plant maintained the following dress code: "It is mandatory that all Production Associates and Leads wear the assigned team wear." For production associates, "team wear" consists of a black cotton shirt with the Tesla's logo and black cotton pants with no buttons, rivets, or exposed zippers, all which Tesla provides.

In the Spring of 2017, however, certain production associates started wearing black t-shirts with the phrase, "Driving a Fair Future at Tesla," along with the logo for the United Auto Workers.

Tesla banned the UAW shirts under its "Team Wear" policy, claiming that the ban limited the risk of alternative clothing damaging vehicles on the production line and made it easier to keep track of employees on the shop floor.

In a split 3-2 decision, the NLRB held that Tesla unlawfully prohibited its employees from wearing shirts with the UAW's logo. 

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Consistency matters when applying anti-harassment rules

Can an employer legally fire an employee who writes "whore board" on an overtime sign-up sheet? Let's explore.

Following unsuccessful negotiations for a new union contract, Constellium unilaterally implemented a new overtime policy that required employees to sign up for overtime on a sheet posted on a bulletin board outside the lunchroom.

Employees were not happy about the new policy. Those who opposed it began calling the overtime sign-up sheet a "whore board," as they believed that those who used it to sign up for overtime were selling out their union. "Whore board" quickly became common slang in the workplace (even among supervisors). There was no evidence that Constellium disciplined anyone for saying the vulgarity.

One employee, Jack Williams, went a step further. He wrote "whore board" on the sign-up sheet. Constellium then fired him for "willfully and deliberately engaging in insulting and harassing conduct."

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Employee too distraught to work over Dobbs decision loses job

I haven't been shy about hiding my disgust over Dobbs, the end of constitutional protections for abortion, and the threat to reproductive, women's and other fundamental rights that our nation currently faces. 

Michael Lopez was also disgusted; so disgusted, in fact, that he couldn't even work. Lopez was a production coordinator at Universal Music Enterprises, whose job included processing a weekly Friday report of upcoming releases. Except the Friday that the Supreme Court released Dobbs, Lopez was too upset to do his job. Instead, he sent the following email to his co-workers:

Monday, August 8, 2022

Does craft beer have a labor problem?

Does craft beer have a labor problem? Julie Rhodes, writing at PorchDrinking, sure thinks so. 

She cites low wages and labor conditions as the two main drivers of her conclusion. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Accountability starts at the top, even for the NFL

NFL disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson has suspended Deshaun Watson for six games for his violation of the league's personal conduct policy based on allegations by four masseuses that he solicited prostitution by paying for sex acts.

Some see six games as a slap on the wrist. I don't, at least in the environment that bound Judge Robinson and her ruling.

While I don't in any way condone Watson's misconduct, the NFL would place itself in serious legal jeopardy by imposing a suspension that encourages Watson or his union to litigate.

Don’t be mad at Watson for getting off light; be mad at the NFL for its long history of giving white male owners a free pass for their own sexual misconduct. The league created the legal environment that let Watson (a Black player) off.

Monday, August 1, 2022

NLRB dismisses charges against lawyers for alleged “union busting” against the employees of its client … but let’s not celebrate yet

One law firm has been at the center of most of the recent high-profile anti-union organizing efforts in large multi-state employers such as Starbucks, Apple, and Trader Joe's — Littler Mendelson. The Service Employees International Union filed an unfair labor practice charge against that law firm and its responsible attorneys alleging that they violated the National Labor Relations Act by illegally polling Starbucks' employees about their support for the union. 

Thankfully, the NLRB has now dismissed that charge.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Have you listened to Labor Relatedly yet?

Over the past few years, I've toyed with the idea of launching my own legal podcast. Two things have held me back. First, I don't really want to add another "thing" for me to manage. Secondly, other people ask me to guest on their podcasts and I feel like I'm getting enough bang for the podcasting buck that the added time of recording and producing my own show wouldn't justify any additional return.

Thus, I jumped at the chance when my friend Michael VanDervort asked if I wanted to join his existing podcast, DriveThruHR, as a recurring co-host to discuss all things labor relations in light of current and historic rise in union organizing.