Skip to main content

Shocking, shocking: Many companies insist that their employees give them their social network logins.

An article in The New York Times, Even if it Enrages Your Boss, Social Net Speak is Protected, describes how the National Labor Relations Board is finally taking some steps and enforcing them against employers who automatically fire or otherwise penalize people’s comments on social media.  Not merely public employers (like the government) but the rulings apply to almost all private sector employees.

It’s about time that protection and regulation for workers’ sakes have been tackled seriously by the NLRB and it’s bringing 21st century concepts to the way people communicate now.

The NLRB’s stance is that it is illegal for companies:

[T]o adopt broad social media policies—like bans on “disrespectful” comments or posts that criticize the employer—if those policies discourage workers from exercising their right to communicate with one another with the aim of improving wages, benefits or working conditions

For example, Mariana Cole-Rivera, a caseworker at Hispanics United of Buffalo, a non-profit social service agency, posted the following on Facebook:

“My fellow co-workers, how do you feel?  Several of her colleagues posted angry, sometimes expletive-laden responses.  “Try doing my job.  I have five programs,” wrote one.  “What the hell, we don’t have a life as is,” wrote another.
Ms. Cole-Rivera and 4 other co-workers were fired.  But in a 3-1 decision, the NLRB reinstated the workers.  It held that they were unlawfully terminated because the posts were “the type of ‘concerted activity” for “mutual aid” that is expressly protected by the National Labor Relations Act.

However, the NLRB upheld the firing of an Arizona Daily Star police reporter for his social media postings:

Frustrated by a lack of news, the reporter posted several Twitter comments.  One said, “What?!?!?!  No overnight homicide…you’re slacking Tucson.”  Another began “You stay homicidal, Tucson."
In this reporter’s case the NLRB said the posts were offensive, not concerted activity and not about working conditions.  Personal venting was bad but acting in concert with the aim of improving wages and working conditions is protected by federal law.

The legal distinction between the two rulings is pretty broad.  For instance, what if people responded to the reporter’s “ranting” by ranting themselves ad infinitum?  Most of the websites I comment on have “ranting” commenters.  I wish the NLRB luck with its task of determining what is ranting.

In order to remain on the right side of the law, we must act in concert for mutual aid with the aim of improving wages and working conditions.  Federal law protects the ability of social media to operate as it was intended, as an ecosystem of touching base with one another.  

Psst!  Dare I say the “u” word (unionize)?  If all of us organize, ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council, whose expressed purpose is to supply legal templates to be implemented for the sake of corporations), and other anti-labor, anti-union groups will have a harder time preventing employee sharing.

Long live acting in concert, mutual aid and improving wage and working conditions!

Originally posted to mariesamuels on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 04:28 AM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site