As the legal expert ... about union organizing

Attorney John Durso, Ungaretti & Harris LLP
Attorney John Durso, Ungaretti & Harris LLP

I have heard that an employee is starting to organize unionization efforts on her Facebook page. What can I do?

If you fire this employee, you are certain to receive an unfair labor practice charge from the National Labor Relations Board.

Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act states, in part, that employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.  

Section 8 of the Act further states that it shall be an unfair labor practice for an employer to interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed in Section 7.

Many non-union employers do not understand that the Act applies to them as well as to unionized employers.  But it does. In fact, the National Labor Relations Board has recently pursued a number of non-union employers over Facebook firings related to concerted, protected activity. 

The best defense to a union organizing campaign is to treat your employees fairly and with consistency. Employees who believe they are treated fairly by their employers are less likely to be interested in joining a union.

Train your supervisors and managers on what communications are permissible. During a union campaign, employers are permitted to engage in activities that will not interfere with an employee's ability to make a free choice in a union election. 

Contact your legal counsel whenever you become aware of unionization efforts to devise the best strategy to defeat a campaign.