Businesses and Unions Await Key Ruling on Email at Work

Business groups and labor unions are awaiting a ruling by federal regulators that could require employers to let workers use company email systems to communicate with each other about improving wages and working conditions, potentially giving unions a powerful new organizing tool.

The National Labor Relations Board is deciding whether to reverse a 2007 ruling that held that employees don’t have a statutory right to use company email systems for such purposes, reports WSJ’s Melanie Trottman:

The board is considering the question as part of a case in which a union said a California communications company’s email rule is too restrictive and violates the rights the board should be protecting. The case has drawn input from unions and business groups alike, who are watching it as one of several pending cases the board is expected to use to put its stamp on federal labor policy.

Unions argue that the 2007 policy needs updating to reflect the increasing importance of email as a means of employee communication, including discussions about exercising decades-old rights to join a union or organize without one. Workplace email, they say, is the modern-day equivalent of the office water cooler, where employees gather to talk.

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