News of the Month – December 2019

December 30th, 2019

In the span of five days, the National Labor Relations Board reversed several Obama era union-friendly cases and measures, all to the benefit of employers. The most significant was probably their relaxing of the punitive time limits in the “quickie/ambush” election rule.

The NLRB recently ruled that businesses can ban workers from using company email for union and other organizing purposes, revoking a right granted in 2014. The policy reversal marks another step in the Republican-majority NLRB’s push to reinterpret the central federal law on unions in ways that advocates say have made it easier for companies to avoid a unionized workforce.

Employers can unilaterally stop deducting union dues from workers’ paychecks once a collective bargaining agreement expires, the NLRB ruled 3-1 on December 16. This ruling overturns an Obama-era decision requiring employers to keep deducting dues and transmitting them to the union even after a contract expires.

NLRB Member Lauren McFerran’s term expired recently, leaving the agency without a Democratic appointee to provide a dissenting voice as it pursues a series of significant changes to federal labor law.

Another employee claims that Google terminated her in retaliation for her organizing. Engineer Kathryn Spiers had created a browser pop-up that reminded coworkers that “Googlers have the right to participate in protected concerted activities.” Her allegation follows the tech giant’s termination of four workers involved in organizing last month.