How many times have you seen this poster? This is the ‘Employee Rights’ poster that was mandated by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to be prominently displayed in over 6 million worksites. That was until a Circuit Court of Appeals Judge decided the ‘freedom of speech’ of the employer is more important than rights of workers.
The poster was created to inform the workers of their right to organize, and collectively bargain. A right that is guaranteed to millions of workers, however they do not know it. This poster was specifically designed to inform workers of all of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act.
Employers have balked at this mandate since it was instituted because they do not want workers to know they have the right to collectively bargain with them. While some think that unions are bad, polling shows overwhelming support for collective bargaining. Employers do not want employees to organize and form unions because it is well known that union workers make more money than non-union workers. When employees make more money, business owners see a reduction in profits.
The other part of this poster that is extremely important is the fact that it is illegal for an employer to question you or take adverse actions against you for union activities. Companies violate this part of the NLRA over and over because many of the workers do not know their rights. I remember when I was 19, I got a summer job with the evil empire (Wal-Mart, before I knew how evil they were). In their basic orientation they forced me to watch a video that basically told me that unions were terrible, money grubbing, organizations that force you to pay due and then do nothing for you. You know, the complete opposite of what unions are all about. At the time, I was also taking a college class on Labor/Management relations. I asked, actually begged, for them to let me borrow the video to use for my class project. They immediately shut me down, and would never let me view the movie again. I think they knew they were skirting the NLRA anti-union regulations with their video and did not want anyone outside of Wal-Mart to see it.
The video I remember was very similar to the one that Gawker obtained from the Target. I am serious, check it out. See if you think it follows the law.
Once again the corporations right to free speech beats out the workers rights to organize. Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO responded to this ruling in a written statement.
“In today’s workplace, employers are required to display posters explaining wage and hour rights, health and safety and discrimination laws, even emergency escape routes. The D.C. Circuit ruling suggests that courts should strike down hundreds of notice requirements, not only those that inform workers about their rights and warn them of hazards, but also those on cigarette packages, in home mortgages and many other areas. The Court’s twisted logic finds that “freedom of speech” precludes the government from requiring employers to provide certain information to employees. This is absurd: when workers know their rights, the laws work as intended.“
Here, here President Trumka, you nailed it. The goal of these posters, to inform the workers of their rights. The fact that they cannot be disciplined, fired, admonished, or any other adverse actions by their employer for activities in forming/joining a union. This is just another absurd ruling in favor of ‘corporate people’ over the actual people who work for these corporations. The good news is that President Obama plans to take this case to the Supreme Court if he needs to.