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Solicitation and Distribution of Union Literature in the Workplace

Author: Irene Stavrellis Englert, Englert Legal Consulting, LLC

By establishing and enforcing valid solicitation and distribution of literature policies, employers may properly restrict a union organizing drive and its attempts to gain support among the employees. However, in order to be successful in limiting union momentum, employers must have the solicitation and distribution policies in place throughout the workplace at all times, especially before the union begins its organization drive.

"Solicitation" and "distribution" are elaborate words for very simple concepts. In the union organizing context, solicitation means communications, usually oral, aimed at persuading an employee to support the union. Distribution refers to the passing out of written materials, such as leaflets and handbills, giving information about the union and containing other campaign propaganda. Generally, solicitation can be distinguished from distribution because of its oral, as opposed to written, form. However, there is one exception - the union authorization card. Even though it is a written document, handing out an authorization card is considered to be solicitation.

The following charts illustrate the circumstances in which an employer may lawfully prohibit solicitation and distribution of union literature in its workplace.