BarbieW 117 Posts
We have a union organizing campaign getting started and a couple of employees are really at the center of the campaign. They are using company email for this purpose. Can we discipline them for using the email this way? How about for talking to other employees about it on company time? Why should the company have to pay for the time they spend causing trouble? Also, we have another union representing employees in another department--can we work this out so there is only one union?
[quote user="IT HR"]I agree with Lesley1947. You NEED to get an attorney/expert on unions. There are specific dos and don'ts on this subject, and you don't want to make a mistake that is going to be costly. You will need to train all of your managers on these dos and don'ts as well. You are going to have a long, hard fight. Good luck.[/quote]
Ditto. There are a lot of ways that you can mess up in a legal sense. Especially if you have never been through this before or have a significant body of labor specific training.
The short story is that all your employees who are not managers under the Wagner act can engage in "concerted protected activity" Concerted means 2 or more. Protected activity is a big place but the readers' digest version is that they can engage in activity for their mutual benefit or protection. Specifically in regards to your question, there are two sides to it assuming you have an electronic communications policy or network usage policy or something that covers personal emails. First, if you have such a policy but don't really take steps to police it, then you would clearly be singling out union activity and that's a no-no. Second, the harder you try to fight unionionizing activity, the easier it is for the organizing committee to characterize the relationship as "us versus them". You need to pick your fights carefully. It's contect sensitive and you need an expert there with boots on the ground who can understand your company and its history and see and feel the environment, but some companies actually put up a bulletin board to permit organizing communication, promoting the view that the Company doesn't think the majority of employees want or "need" a union. It also has the effect allowing the employer access to a lot of communication. Wherever you land on the spectrum, think about it this way: if they can't use email, they'll use leaflets and talk around the water cooler and the coffee pot. They're going to talk about this and the Company can't affectively prevent that. Will coming down on email users/abusers help or hinder your cause?