Another setback for the NLRB

The National Federation of Independent Businesses and the National Association of Manufacturers are crowing over Tuesday's appellate court decision (PDF) striking down a National Labor Relations Board rule that companies display a poster telling workers about their rights to form a union. The poster also says they have the right not to form a union.

“Today’s decision is a monumental victory for small-business owners across this country who have been subject to the illegal actions of a labor board that has consistently failed to act as a neutral arbiter, as the law contemplates,” Karen Harned, executive director of NFIB's Small Business Legal Center, said in an emailed statement. “The court acknowledged that ‘the choice to speak includes within it the choice of what not to say,’ and that the NLRB overstepped its authority by compelling small-business owners to post a pro-union notice. The court’s ruling protects small-business owners from frivolous union lawsuits and reaffirms that the authority of the NLRB is narrow and limited as defined by Congress in the National Labor Relations Act.”

Among the named plaintiffs in the foundational case was John Brinson, chief executive of Racquetball Centers Inc., known in the Allentown area as Lehigh Valley Racquet & 24-7 Fitness Clubs. In his declaration, Brinson said his company, which employs 260, has never violated the National Labor Relations Act.

Not surprising, the AFL-CIO, the nation's largest federation of labor unions, had a completely different reaction, saying that the Republican judges at the Washington DC appellate court "continue to wreak havoc on workers' rights."

The appellate decision, announced on Tuesday, throws out the rule because of provisions related to enforcing it. It said that the NLRB can't use the failure to post the sign advising workers of their rights as evidence of unfair labor practices. 

The NLRB had argued that the poster was necessary because so few workers belong to unions that there is no longer a general knowledge of the right of workers to form unions -- a situation that particularly affects young workers and immigrants. 

Here's a link to an NLRB page explaining the poster. If you scroll down, you can pull up a copy of the poster. As of early evening Tuesday, the NLRB's web site did not have the board's reaction to the decision.

On a local note, former Philadelphia Bar Association chancellor Doreen S. Davis, was mentioned at the top of Tuesday's appellate decision for having written an amici curiae (friend of the court) brief on behalf of the management groups opposing the poster. She had been a partner at Morgan Lewis in Philadelphia, but now is a partner at Jones Day, based in New York.

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