August 30, 2013 will soon be remembered as the day the current National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) turned a corner and became a full-fledged advertising agency for union organization. On that day, the NLRB announced the release of a free NLRB mobile app for mobile smartphone users. Under the guise of “educating” employees about the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), this unbalanced app backdoors much of the same NLRB notice-posting propaganda that was proposed, delayed, and ultimately enjoined by a Federal Court last year. Expect this app to be grouped right next to the DOL’s Time Tracking App (downloaded last year), where employees can track their hours and submit alleged violations of the FLSA directly to the DOL’s Wage & Hour Division.
NLRB Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce states the purpose of the new app is merely “using 21st Century technology to inform and educate the public about the law and their rights.” While it does that, the app seemingly advocates a pro organization agenda. For instance, whenever you are using the app, a “Contact NLRB” button is visible. This electronic campaign button, when pressed, transports the user to a webpage where they can locate their closest NLRB office’s contact information. This campaign button also allows users to instantly call the NLRB with a single tap, as if they need to send up a bat signal into the sky.
Topics that get emphasized include the following:
• “Educates” employees that “[a]ll employees – union or not yet unionized– have the right to participate in a protected strike, picket or protest.” See the recent fast food strikes for an example.
• “Educates” employees that “you have the right to address work-related issues and share information about pay, benefits, and working conditions with coworkers on Facebook, YouTube, and other social media.”
• “Educates” employees that they have the right to engage in protected concerted activity. The app includes examples, such as “talking with one or more co-workers about your wages and benefits or other working conditions, circulating a petition asking for better hours, participating in a concerted refusal to work in unsafe conditions, and joining with coworkers to talk directly to your employer, to a government agency, or to the media about problems in the workplace.”
Employers should carefully review their electronic communications policies to take into account when and under what circumstances employees are permitted to use their personal devices. In addition, careful consideration should be given to parameters of the increasingly popular “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) policies.
For more information regarding the above, please contact your Weintraub Tobin labor and employment attorney.