Last week, Judge Keltner Locke, an administrative law judge for the National Labor Relations Board, ruled that Mercedes Benz U.S. International violated the rights of workers in its plant by not permitting the distribution of union literature in certain areas of the plant. Mercedes Benz stated that these restrictions were designed to protect worker safety and production. Judge Locke ruled that employees who are on non-working time can solicit pro-union support from other employees in areas including work areas.
Mercedes Benz ordered the automaker to amend its rules regarding the solicitation and distribution of materials at the plant when employees are considering unionization. The National Labor Relations Act guarantees the right of workers to distribute union literature and communicate with each other at the workplace during non-work time, e.g., breaks or lunchtime. Companies who wish to block a union organizing campaign often have rules to prevent this and discipline employees for violating the rules. Here, the NLRB ruled that Mercedes Benz’s rules violated the law and ordered them to revoke these unlawful rules.