Board Reinstates Worker Fired Over Facebook Postings: Abigail Rubenstein of Law360 ($$) reports that last week, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) affirmed an Administrative Law Judge’s decision to reinstate a New York City Tour Guide who was fired by his employer for posting about the company on Facebook. The employee, surprisingly, did not actually direct any of his Facebook postings to his fellow co-workers. Instead, the Board found that merely writing about his union organizing activity was enough to bring his postings under the protections of the National Labor Relations Act.
"In particular, we affirm the judge’s finding that those communications constituted union activity, even if directed to tour guides of other New York City companies," the NLRB’s decision said. "The Feb. 11 communications were an obvious continuation of Pflantzer’s prior organizational activity, activity which was known to [New York Party Shuttle]."
The company had attempted to argue that the employee’s postings could not be protected because they were libelous. However, the Board found that the employee’s posts about checks bouncing were largely true. As such, his missives remained protected, even though they were not explicitly directed to his coworkers.
While the Board’s view of social media is still evolving, this case represents a good lesson for employers. Firing an employee over a Facebook post could easily land a company in hot water with the current Board, who seem intent on protecting a wide swath of employee communications.
Teachers File ULP Charges After Lackawanna Declares Impasse: Steve McConnell of The Scranton Times-Tribune reports that Pennsylvania’s largest teachers’ union has filed unfair labor practice charges against Lackawanna College. The teachers’ union, representing the college’s faculty, has been at odds with the University ever since negotiations began over a new contract between the parties. Earlier this year, Lackawanna declared impasse after more than two years of negotiations and imposed its last best offer on the faculty.
The contract imposed upon the faculty guarantees full health care benefits for teachers and their families for the first two years of the new contract. However, employees would have to pay increased premiums in the remaining three years. We will certainly keep you posted as this matter moves forward.
Patriot Coal Employees Threaten to Strike: The JD Journal reports that an attorney for workers at Patriot Coal were prepared to go on strike if Patriot Coal cannot agree on a new contract with the union representing the employees. Patriot Coal, currently in Bankruptcy proceedings, has been attempting to void its contract with the United Mine Workers of America in order to make cost-saving labor cuts. The CEO of Patriot Coal called the attorney’s comments "ill conceived."
“It’s a poor time to be throwing out threats,” referring to the comments of the union’s attorney.
Patriot has been attempting to cease pension contributions as well, but has proposed to give the union a 35% equity stake in the company. We will keep you posted as bankruptcy proceedings move forward.