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Today in Labor History

Feb. 16, 2011
All public schools in Milwaukee and Madison, Wisc., are closed as teachers call in sick to protest Gov. Scott Walker’s plans to gut their collective bargaining rights.
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Complaining About the Boss on Facebook? Careful!
Posted On: Aug 24, 2011

   There seems to be a right way to complain about your boss on Facebook, and a wrong way. Do it the right way, you’re protected by the law.  Do it the wrong way, you could find yourself looking for a new job to complain about.

   Three “advice memos” circulated around the National Labor Relations Board  in July and reported in BNA Labor Relations Week suggest that the right way to bitch about your job on Facebook or other social media is to have co-workers participate in the bitching.

   If several people are complaining, you can claim you’re talking about working conditions as a right guaranteed under federal law.
The labor board may agree with you.

   But if you’re just complaining to the world, with no involvement or response on the part of co-workers, then you’re considered acting alone and there’s nothing to stop the boss from disciplining you.

   The NLRB Division of Advice looks at how the law applies to cases and then sends out advisory memos to regional offices of the agency. They guide how NLRB hearing officers are to interpret the law.

   In the three cases it examined, the Advice Division found the absence of any meaningful co-worker response or comment to negative Facebook postings involving their workplace meant the complainers could not claim their rights under the National Labor Relations Act had been violated when they were disciplined.

   Even a bit of a response by coworkers may not help your case. A worker posted a remark about “tyranny” at his Walmart and two coworkers did in fact respond, but a response of “hang in there” was not interpreted in the memo as an indicator of concerted, united action.

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