Board Finds Facebook Posts to be Protected Activity: Abigail Rubenstein of Law360 ($$) writes that last Friday, the National Labor Relations Board affirmed an Administrative Law Judge’s finding that Bettie Page Clothing in San Francisco, CA unlawfully terminated employees for criticizing store management on Facebook. The Board agreed with the ALJ in finding that the posts, related to the store closing earlier so that workers would not have to walk through unsafe neighborhoods, amounted to classic protected and concerted activity by the workers.
“The Facebook postings were complaints among employees about the conduct of their supervisor as it related to their terms and conditions of employment and about management’s refusal to address the employees’ concerns,” the board’s decision said. “Such conversations for mutual aid and protection are classic concerted protected activity, even absent prior action.”
The Board, as a remedial measure, ordered Bettie Page Clothing to reinstate the three employees who were fired for their Facebook postings, with all three employees also awarded backpay. In a statement, the company vowed to appeal the Board’s ruling.
This case just represents another example of the Board’s incredibly protective approach when it comes to social media. It seems that lately, Facebook has become the new "water-cooler." As such, employers must tread very carefully when dealing with any social media issues. Since this case is being appealed, we will be following it all the way through to a final decision.
Twinkie’s New Owners Hoping to Avoid Union Labor: Rachel Feintzeig of the Wall Street Journal reports that Hostess Brands LLC-Metropoulos & Co. and Apollo Global Management LLC (Hostess) is making preparations to hire new workers and reopen Twinkie plants, but without the help of Union workers.
"We do not expect to be involved in the union going forward," Mr. Metropoulos said in an interview Wednesday.
The former iteration of Hostess, which just went through a Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, employed 15,000 union-represented workers once upon a time. However, the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers & Grain Millers Union (BCTWGM) engaged in a devastating strike last year, sending the company into bankruptcy.
When reached for further comment, Mr. Metropoulos expressed confidence that Hostess would be able to find enough workers to fill its plants, particularly because the operations would be opening in areas of high unemployment. We will be watching these developments closely and will keep you updated.
Durham School Bus Drivers Vote to Strike: Chris Valdez of the Poughkeepsie Journal writes school bus employees in Durham, NC have voted to walk off the job and go on strike. The Teamsters Local 445 voted yesterday to renew the union’s strike authorization, so the drivers could strike at any time now. The employees, without a contract since September of last year, have argued that they are underpaid and overworked. Management officials have offered raises, but so far, there has not been any significant progress in negotiations. We will keep you posted as this story develops.