The federal labor board modified one of its standard remedies for workers whose union rights were violated, a change it said was prompted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The National Labor Relations Board typically requires employers found to have violated federal labor law to post a notice on their premises, and often via e-mail, admitting their illegal actions and advising workers of their rights. The standard notice-posting has to be done within 14 days after a business is notified by the board.
The agency said in a decision Wednesday that it would modify the requirement to “adapt to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.” Employers whose facilities are closed due to the pandemic will now be required to post the notices within 14 days after they reopen and a “substantial complement” of their employees have returned to work.
The board added that businesses whose facilities aren’t open also will have to hold off on electronic distribution of the notices, because “employers that customarily communicate with their employees by electronic means may not be doing so while their businesses remain closed.”
The changes do not apply to companies “whose facilities remain open and staffed by a substantial complement of employees,” the ruling said. The board also noted it will reinstate the standard procedure “when conditions warrant.”
The National Labor Relations Act’s standard remedies are often criticized by unions and workers’ rights advocates as being a comparatively toothless means of enforcing the country’s central law governing unionization in the private sector.
The board’s decision came in a case where it found that an ambulance services provider in Danbury, Conn., interfered with its employees’ union rights, including by “denigrating the Union and blaming the Union for failing to return employees to work.” It added that the company failed to comply with a settlement agreement the agency previously hashed out.
Danbury Ambulance Service Inc. also illegally solicited an employee directly to drop a grievance against the company, and failed to provide required information to the New England Health Care Employees Union, District 1199, the NLRB said in the ruling. The local union is affiliated with the Service Employees International Union.
Neither the company nor its attorney could immediately be reached for comment. A representative for the union could not immediately be reached for comment.
The case is Danbury Ambulance Service, Inc., N.L.R.B., Case No. 01–CA–238987, Decision 5/6/20.