Get access to the exclusive HR Resources you need to succeed in 2018.
Sign up for free email newsletters and get more SHRM content delivered to your inbox.
Is your employee handbook keeping up with the changing world of work? With SHRM's Employee Handbook Builder get peace of mind that your handbook is up-to-date.
Build competencies, establish credibility and advance your career—while earning PDCs—at SHRM Seminars in 14 cities across the U.S. this fall.
Gain the skills you need to rise to the next level in your career. Jon us at SHRM's Leadership Development Forum, October 2-3 in Boston.
Members may download one copy of our sample forms and templates for your personal use within your organization. Please note that all such forms and policies should be reviewed by your legal counsel for compliance with applicable law, and should be modified to suit your organization’s culture, industry, and practices. Neither members nor non-members may reproduce such samples in any other way (e.g., to republish in a book or use for a commercial purpose) without SHRM’s permission. To request permission for specific items, click on the “reuse permissions” button on the page where you find the item.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), issuing a stinging blow to unions on Dec. 16, 2007, ruled that an employer can prohibit workers from using its e-mail system for union business.
In its long-awaited, highly controversial ruling, split 3-2 along party lines, the Republican majority announced and applied a new standard for determining whether an employer has improperly discriminated against the union in enforcing its e-mail use policy.
The ruling involved The Register-Guard, a newspaper in Eugene, Ore., and e-mail messages sent in 2000 by a union organizer who used the company's e-mail system to urge employees marching in a town parade to wear green in support of the union in contract negotiations.
In its decision, the NLRB specified the types of e-mail policies that would be unlawful under the new standard. Examples include:
On the other hand, the board ruled that it would be acceptable for a company to draw a line between charitable and noncharitable solicitations to allow solicitations for organizations such as the Red Cross but not a union.
The ruling passed over union claims--and the arguments of the NLRB’s two Democrats--that e-mail systems have become a key way for employees to communicate freely.
And while the Democrats argued that the majority's logic would permit an employer to allow just about every type of e-mail but union communications, the majority held firm.
In each of its examples, the board wrote, "the fact that union solicitation would fall on the prohibited side of the line does not establish that the rule discriminates" against the union. For instance, the board reasoned, "a rule that permitted charitable solicitations but not noncharitable solicitations would permit solicitations for the Red Cross and the Salvation Army, but it would prohibit solicitations for Avon and the union."
Democrats and unions had argued that employees' interest in communicating with other workers about union activity and other collective concerns should, with regard to the e-mail system, outweigh the employer's property interest.
The e-mail ruling was released in the closing hours of the terms of NLRB Chairman Bob Batista, a Republican, and Democrat Dennis Walsh. Batista and Walsh have been serving in temporary positions at the board pending reappointment. The remaining board members--two Republicans and one Democrat--are permitted to continue issuing decisions, but past practice has been to hold controversial rulings until all seats are filled.
You have successfully saved this page as a bookmark.
Please confirm that you want to proceed with deleting bookmark.
You have successfully removed bookmark.
Please log in as a SHRM member before saving bookmarks.
Please sign in as a SHRM member before saving bookmarks.
Please purchase a SHRM membership before saving bookmarks.
An error has occurred
Recommended for you
Choose from dozens of free webcasts on the most timely HR topics.
SHRM’s HR Vendor Directory contains over 10,000 companies