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Just ONE thing I've learned???


I’ve been asked to blog about something interesting that I’ve learned in a class or at work regarding the labor and employment law field. This is nearly impossible because I’ve learned SO MUCH! How do I narrow it down???


What comes to mind is what I’ve not only learned, but actually applied at work: ULPs. That’s right folks, the dreaded unfair labor practices. Before the MJ-LEL program I knew that employers weren’t supposed to keep employees from unionizing, that terms and conditions of employment were mandatory subjects for bargaining, yada yada yada. But what I didn’t know were specifics and I didn’t realize that my organization was pushing the boundary of what could be considered a ULP. For instance, in the Introduction to Labor Law Principles and Strategies class, I learned that terms and conditions of employment not already contained in the contract must be bargained about. And that terms and conditions of employment contained in the contract cannot be changed by management without bargaining with the union. Lastly, neither the employer nor the union are required to bargain the terms and conditions already contained in the contract.


So how did this new knowledge impact my workplace? Well, it turns out that our collective bargaining agreement for support staff personnel contains the length of time for their unpaid, duty free lunch. However, the administration decided that some staff would reduce their lunch time by several minutes each day and bank the time in order to work half-day Fridays during the summer. Seems like a nice gesture, no? Sure, but the issue is that the administration did not negotiate or discuss the reduced lunch schedule with the union when it was contained in the contract.


I discovered a second potential ULP while taking the Social Media course and reviewing my workplace’s social media policy. In class, I learned that overly broad guidelines within a social media policy could unlawfully prohibit employees from posting content on their personal social media accounts and infringe on their “protected concerted” activities. Employers are not allowed to interfere, restrain, or coerce employees from addressing work-related issues and share information about terms and conditions of employment on social media. This includes posting a picture of a strike where the employer’s logo is used. Our current social media policy includes statements such as “Do not post copyrighted information” and “personal web posts shall not include the District’s logos, mascots, symbols, or other insignias.” Knowing what I now know, these overly broad guidelines could interfere with our employees' rights under the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act that closely follows the NLRA. I have since brought this to the attention of our Communications Director who, in turn, will review the policy with the attorneys.


Just ONE thing I've learned??? © 2023 by Dorianne Browne is licensed underCC BY-ND 4.0



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