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WASHINGTON – The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) abandoned its appeal to require all employers to post an 11 x 17-inch poster containing information about workers rights to organize labor unions. Franchisee, franchisor and other trade groups are declaring a legal victory against the NLRB. Since the NLRB did not file an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court by a January 3 deadline, two lower courts' decisions – the District Court Columbia Circuit and the Fourth Circuit — overruled the NLRB's poster rule. If the NLRB wishes to revisit the rule, it must now start from scratch and issue another proposal entirely.
Franchisees are thrilled. "The NLRB overstepped its authority by requiring biased, pro-union language to be posted and violated employers' rights to free speech," states Misty Chally, executive director for the Coalition of Franchisee Associations, which consists of tens of thousands of franchisees from some of the nation's largest franchise brands. The CFA is a member of the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, which participated in the lawsuit to strike down the NLRB poster mandate.
The International Franchise Association, a trade group that was formed in 1960 to lobby for franchisors, also worked with the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace. The IFA's CEO Steve Caldeira is pleased. "The NLRB was wise not to appeal a decision that swiftly and unambiguously rejected the Board's aggressive overstepping of its authority in requiring an unbalanced workers' rights notice that deprives employers of their free speech rights and misguides the workers it was designed to inform," says Caldeira.
Some franchisees are wary that although the skirmish may have been won, the battle against small business employers may still rage on. The Coalition of Franchisee Associations' Chally warns the nearly 1,000,000 franchise owners in the United States: "While this is a significant win, franchisees must prepare for a flurry of new rules." The franchisee leader thinks that franchisees still face the NLRB's previous proposal of requiring companies to hold shortened labor union elections and the possibility that the Department of Labor might issue a final rule to limit the privileged nature of employer-attorney discussions about labor unions. She cautions, "The NLRB and Department of Labor are just getting started."