You thought the National Labor Relations Board was just a bunch of stuffy lawyers. But judging by the new NLRB website, they’ve added some marketing folks to the staff.
You’ll remember the recent federal court ruling that employers don’t have to place posters in the workplace informing employees of their rights to unionize. So the NLRB decided to go the digital route.
And the NLRB website is a thing to behold. Visitors can click on points on a map of the U.S. to be whisked away to tales of the Labor Board’s successes in safeguarding employees engaged in “protected concerted activity.”
Among the cases, which run from Washington State to Florida and Connecticut to California:
- A construction crew fired after refusing to work in the rain near exposed electrical wires
- a customer service representative who lost her job after discussing her wages with a coworker
- an engineer at a vegetable packing plant fired after reporting safety concerns affecting other employees
- a paramedic fired after posting work-related grievances on Facebook,
- and poultry workers fired after discussing their grievances with a newspaper reporter.
There are 13 cases in all, “selected,” according to the NLRB’s press release, “to show a variety of situations, but they have in common a finding … that the activity that the employees undertook was protected under federal labor law.”
The thing that’s conspicuous in its absence on the site? The subject of unions.
Here’s the only sentence on the site’s opening page that contains the U-word:
The law we enforce gives employees the right to act together to try to improve their pay and working conditions or fix job-related problems, even if they aren’t in a union.
Pretty clear: The NLRB wants to downplay the union organizing issue and highlight its role as protector of the working stiff. Pretty savvy marketing, that.
Here’s part of what what NLRB Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce said in the Board’s press release:
“We think the right to engage in protected concerted activity is one of the best kept secrets of the National Labor Relations Act, and more important than ever in these difficult economic times.
“Our hope is that other workers will see themselves in the cases we’ve selected and understand that they do have strength in numbers.”
We’ll see how this new approach works. Given organized labor’s dwindling membership numbers, it seems doubtful this new marketing campaign will make much of a dent in employees’ apparent disinterest in unionizing.