essential information for the union representative

Facts For The Union Rep

Earnings Fall, Prices Rise

Real average hourly earnings for all employees declined by 0.6 percent from February to March seasonally adjusted according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The decline stemmed from the 0.5% increase in the Consumer Price Index while real hourly average earnings remained unchanged.   

  Gasoline and food price increases accounted for almost three-quarters of the CPI increase. Gas prices have risen almost 14.4 percent over the last three months. Real average hourly earnings fell 1.0 percent from March 2010 to March 2011.

  For production and nonsuper-visory workers the decrease was greater, 0.7 percent from February to March 2011.  Real average hourly earnings fell 1.0 percent from March 2010 to March 2011. 

Social Media and Workers’ Rights

A recent NLRB case involving the termination of an American Medical Response (AMR) employee for criticizing her supervisor on Facebook may limit employer restrictions on employees’ social media postings.

This case involved an emergency medical technician who criticized a supervisor on her own Facebook page using her home computer. The negative comments elicited supportive comments from coworkers and that led to further negative comments by the employee, a member of the Teamsters. When the employer learned of the postings, it fired the worker. The company maintained a policy barring employees from depicting the company “in any way,” on social media sites in which employees post pictures of themselves. It also denied union representation to the EMT in the disciplinary process.

The NLRB ‘s regional office in Hartford issued a complaint against AMR in October 2010 alleging the discharge was in violation of Section 7 of the NLRA saying that the EMT’s actions in posting comments about her supervisor were protected activity under the law.  According to the NLRB, the company maintained “overly-broad rules in its employee handbook regarding blogging, Internet posting, and communications between employees.”  It had also illegally denied Weingarten rights the employee during the investigatory interview. 

The case was settled with the company agreeing to revise its overly-broad rules to ensure that they do not “improperly restrict employees from discussing their wages, hours and working conditions with co-workers while not at work, and that they would not discipline or discharge employees from engaging in such discussions.”

The company also promised not to deny Weingarten rights to its employees. The actual discharge was settled between the EMT and the company and details were not released.

While this case was resolved earlier this year, another case was resolved this month against in which an employee was terminated for posting comments about she made about the company on her Facebook page. In this instance, the company was not unionized but the employee’s complaint was upheld by the NLRB under the same NLRA criteria. The company settled with the employee and company policy was changed.

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