How may an employer communicate its position with employees during a union election campaign?

Author: Jed L. Marcus, Bressler, Amery & Ross, P.C.

Under Section 9(c) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), an employer has every right to express its opinion about unions and unionization. Quite often, an employer will insert written communications in pay envelopes or mail them to employees' homes. The most effective way to communicate, though, is through group meetings, where an employer meets with groups of employees during the work day and at the workplace. Meetings are very important because they give an employer the opportunity to offer facts and opinions about unionization, to remind employees of the wages and benefits they already receive without a union and warn them about the risks and dangers of collective bargaining. These meetings are also useful in reconnecting with employees who may not have spoke with management in a long time. An employer must not, however, violate the National Labor Relations Board's 25 hour rule, which prohibits employers from conducting group meetings within 25 hours of a union election. This rule, however, does not prevent an employer from communicating with employees individually or through the mail.

Certain conduct will, however, violate the NLRA, including: threatening employees with loss of jobs or benefits if they join or vote for a union or engage in protected concerted activity; threatening to close the plant if employees select a union to represent them; questioning employees about their union sympathies or activities in circumstances that tend to interfere with, restrain or coerce employees in the exercise of their rights under the NLRA; or promising benefits to employees to discourage their union support.