Q. One of our employees (a bus driver) also serves as a committee member for a labor union. The driver uses his union position to protect himself from our company’s policy on insubordination. Does have a right to ban this employee from the property when he conducts labor business because of his combative, disrespectful and intimidating manner? What rights does management have under this circumstance?—S. G., Florida
A. Employees who serve as shop stewards or union committee members (such as grievance or negotiating committees) are entitled to a fair amount of protection under the National Labor Relations Act when performing their union activities.
Example: Employers risk violating the act when they terminate a shop steward for being aggressive or using profane language during a grievance meeting.
Of course, you should establish appropriate boundaries. A union representative who engages in clearly outrageous behavior, such as threatening violence, will lose protection under the act. Don’t forget: The protection afforded under the act applies only when the union representative is performing a “union function.” It doesn’t provide any protection to union representatives when they’re merely performing their jobs.