Trump NLRB Appointees Continue Attack on Freedom to Speak Out at Work

Thursday, December 19, 2019

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced a series of decisions this week designed to undermine workers’ ability to join together to address workplace issues. All three cases were decided by a 3-1 vote, with President Trump’s three appointees voting to expand employers’ control over workers’ ability to communicate with each other and maintain their union membership.

“Corporations have far too much power over working people’s lives.” said Communications Workers of America President Chris Shelton. “The National Labor Relations Board is supposed to safeguard workers’ freedom to join together and fight back against injustice at their workplaces and protect workers when their employers abuse their power. President Trump’s NLRB has done just the opposite. With every decision, they make it harder for workers to speak out and easier for employers to silence them.”

“These decisions show why passing legislation like the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act to increase worker power is so important,” said CWA Senior Director for Government Affairs and Policy Shane Larson. “The Trump Administration has been working as fast as they can on corporate America’s wish list for silencing anyone who dares to challenge their absolute control over working people’s lives. They want us to sit down and shut up.”

In Caesars Entertainment d/b/a Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino, the NLRB ruled that employers may restrict the ability of employees to use work email outside of work time to discuss workplace issues, overruling its 2014 decision in Purple Communications, Inc. In that case, filed by CWA, the NLRB ruled in favor of the workers at Purple Communications, recognizing that email has become a critical means of communication about working conditions and other issues.

In Apogee Retail LLC d/b/a Unique Thrift Store the NLRB ruled that employers can prevent workers from discussing ongoing workplace investigations into illegal or unethical behavior, such as sexual harassment. This silencing of workers who may be affected by such behavior allows employers to engage in cover ups and makes it impossible for workers with similar experiences to connect with one another.

In Valley Hospital Medical Center, the NLRB ruled that employers can stop collecting union dues from members’ paychecks upon expiration of a collective bargaining agreement. This decision allows employers to interfere with members’ relationship with their chosen collective bargaining representative and makes it difficult for members to remain in good standing so that they can vote on union issues, such as contract ratification.

The PRO Act (H.R. 2474) will empower workers across the country by strengthening their right to act collectively and join together in a union. It will help level the playing field and remove some of the barriers that workers face when bargaining for fair wages, improved benefits, and a more secure retirement. Additionally, the PRO Act will improve protections for workers who face anti-union discrimination, retaliation, and other coercive acts by their employers.

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