Unlawful to Ask Workers on Strike What They Want

Employee Zamora was part of a group of non-union employees who went on strike to protest the speed of a conveyor belt at the meatpacking plant where he worked. A few weeks later, the same employees planned to strike again. About 30 minutes before the strike commenced, Zamora was called into his supervisor’s office and asked what he wanted. When he answered “an increase,” Zamora was fired. According to the judge, the question “what do you want” violated Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act, which prohibits employer conduct that interferes with, restrains, or coerces employees in the exercise of their rights under the Act. “Even a rhetorical question to an employee can be coercive, and therefore violative of Section 8(a)(1) if made in a context that conveys the employer’s displeasure with the employee’s protected conduct,” the Board said. The idea that a company cannot ask its employees why they are striking defies the very purpose of a strike – to convey to the employer that workers want something to change. This holding is shocking and hopefully will not be followed.