Under the National Labor Relations Act, employers may forbid employees from using company provided email and electronic communication systems for all non-business activities. Specifically, employees have no statutory right to use their Employer’s email system for Section 7 purposes, including union organizing activity. The NLRB’s General Counsel and the Communication Workers of America believe that this limitation is unlawful and have asked the Board to overturn this law.
The General Counsel argued that a rule that prohibits employees from using a Company’s equipment to engage in Section 7 activities such as organizing support for a labor organization, or discussing, or attempting to discuss, workplace concerns with fellow workers violates the National Labor Relations Act. The General Counsel continued, “technology has made email…analogous to the water cooler,” the place where employees gather to discuss personal and work issues.
The Board will likely reverse the current law given its 3-2 pro-union majority, and when it does, unions will be handed a potent organizing tool and employers’ rights will further be eroded.