Amazon isn’t the only corporation to face such charges. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz was hit in October for comments regarding unions, indicating that the NLRB is taking a harder line on corporate speak generally. Corporations like Amazon have the resources, legally and financially, to contest charges by agencies like the NLRB. Smaller companies may not. They’re also less likely to have experience with the laws and regulations regarding unions. Smaller businesses facing a union organizing bid will be second-guessing themselves on anything they say publicly or to their workers lest the NLRB hits them with a complaint.
The National Labor Relations Act prohibits management from doing anything that would “interfere with, restrain or coerce” workers exercising their union rights. Traditionally, management could provide workers with information regarding unions they considered important but had to walk a fine line not to threaten workers regarding exercising their rights.
The standard was what workers could reasonably construe as a threat. The manager’s intent when making a comment was irrelevant. Union activists, by contrast, were given wide latitude to disparage the company and its management.
The NLRB is cracking down on what managers can say about unions while its general counsel is proposing rule changes that would limit the time managers have to say anything and prevent them from requiring employees to listen.
Ultimately, the ones most affected will be the workers. Management is usually the only way for workers to get a different perspective on joining a union. Unions have no incentive to tell workers about their rights to withhold the share of their dues that pay for activities outside of collective bargaining.
Ultimately, the decision is still up to the workers themselves. If they decide they want a union, they should have it. But they should know what they are getting themselves into first. A union is a major step that changes everything about their workplace, creating a perpetual confrontational situation with the company, and it can’t always be easily undone if they decide it was a mistake.
Read the full article at D.C. Journal.