Employees Seeking Decertification Allowed to Use Company-Wide Email System to Campaign Against Union

By October 19, 2000Articles

In a victory for employers, the National Labor Relations Board ruled in Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, a Div. of Lockheed Martin Corp. (July 24, 2000), that the employer did not commit an unfair labor practice by allowing decertification supporters to use company e-mail to express their anti-union position prior to the decertification election.

During the decertification election campaign, various Lockheed employees sent out several mass e-mails to over 1,000 workers expressing support for union decertification. The Engineer and Scientists Guild, which narrowly lost the decertification election, claimed that this use of the e-mail system violated Lockheed’s own policy against solicitation and distribution of literature on the job, and use of company property. However, Lockheed permitted personal use of its e-mail system during non-work time hours provided the use is 1) occasional 2) does not interfere with employee’s performance and 3) not in support of a personal business.

The Union claim that Lockheed illegally assisted the decertification campaign by allowing anti-union employees to use company e-mail to broadcast six publications and to conduct a salary survey prior to the election. In a 2-1 decision the NLRB disagreed. The Board first noted that “Representation elections are not lightly set aside….There is a strong presumption that ballots cast under specific NLRB procedural safeguards reflect the true desire of the employees.”

The NLRB concluded that Lockheed actions or inaction in allowing its e-mail system to be used did not justify overturning the election. Lockheed had a general practice of allowing its employees wide latitude in using its e-mail for “non-business” purposes. “A party’s conduct cannot be the basis for setting aside the [decertification] election unless it reasonably tended to interfere with the employees’ free and uncoerced choice in the election.” Finding that Lockheed did not interfere with the Union’s own campaign efforts to avoid decertification, the Board held that “there is no reason to believe that employees reasonably perceived, from the Employer’s handling of the Petitioner’s use of the e-mail system, that the Employer discriminated against the Union, much less that employees were coerced thereby in their choice regarding their bargaining representative.”

For any questions or comments regarding this Labor Law Update please contact attorney Michael Daly of the Daly Law Firm at (619) 525-7000 or daly@dalylawfirm.co.

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