Employees have some right to privacy when it comes to union organizing, according to a recent California Court of Appeal decision.
The court concluded that when a union asks an employer for the names and contact information of employees who do not belong to the union, employers must first inform the employees of the request and give them an opportunity to object.
Recent case: During the collective bargaining process, a union certified as the majority representative for several Los Angeles County public agencies demanded a list of the names and addresses of all nonunion employees. It wanted to send them dues notices and invitations to join the union. When the agencies refused on privacy grounds, the union claimed an unfair labor practice.
The court sought to balance the union’s right to contact employees with the privacy rights of employees. It ordered the agencies to send the employees in question opt-out notices similar to those used in class-action litigation. (County of Los Angeles v. Los Angeles CountyCommission, et al., No. B217668, Court of Appeal of California, 2010)
Final note: As you can see from this case, you need expert help when a union organizes—or attempts to organize—your workforce. Your attorney can advise you on what you can and cannot do to discourage union organizing, and can also help negotiate the best possible collective bargaining agreement should the union win an organizing vote.
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