The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has found itself in a new controversy as its latest rule finds favor with unions and frustration with business owners.
Earlier this year, the NLRB came under fire for a ruling that sided with machinists and aerospace unions on a decision by Boeing to locate a new facility in South Carolina.
On Thursday, the NLRB issued a final rule that will require employers to notify employees of their rights to organize unions. The rule states that the information will be posted in workplaces like other rules regarding minimum wage and personnel policies starting November 14, 2011.
The notice, which is similar to one required by the U.S. Department of Labor for federal contractors, states that employees have the right to act together to improve wages and working conditions, to form, join and assist a union, to bargain collectively with their employer, and to refrain from any of these activities. It provides examples of unlawful employer and union conduct and instructs employees how to contact the NLRB with questions or complaints.
Alan Hughes, state director for the Arkansas AFL-CIO, tells Talk Business that he thinks the new rule will "make a difference."
"In my opinion, it saves both sides a lot of confusion, just like OSHA rules and minimum wage laws," Hughes said.
He also hopes it could lead to more union organization in the state. "It’s always got that possibility. The main thing is it gives them the facts on what they can do and what they can’t do," Hughes added.
Randy Zook, president of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce and Associated Industries of Arkansas, disagreed with Hughes’ assessment.
"This initiative by the NLRB is yet another effort by the board to encourage union formation in businesses," said Zook. "For its seventy-five plus year history, the board has acted to insure fair play in union/management contests regarding representation agreements. This is an unlegislated tilt in favor of unions that adds greater uncertainty to today’s business climate and inhibits business growth and job creation."
As for whether or not the new public notices could lead to an increase in unionization efforts in Arkansas, Zook said, "Hard to say with certainty."
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