NLRB Proposes Rollback of Requirement to Provide Unions with Personal E-mail Addresses, Phone Numbers
On July 29, 2020, the National Labor Relations Board issued a proposed rule that would repeal the Obama-era mandate that employers provide unions and other parties with employees’ personal e-mail addresses and phone numbers, if available, prior to union elections. Additionally, the proposed rule would allow employees on military leave to vote by absentee ballot.
It is well established that an employer is required to provide a union with a list of voters in advance of an NLRB election. From 1966 until 2014, the employer was required to provide the union only eligible voters’ names and addresses. In 2014, the Board implemented a controversial rule that drastically changed many representation case (“R-Case”) procedures. One such change required that employers provide unions with additional information on the Voter List, including available personal e-mail addresses, home phone numbers, and cell phone numbers of eligible voters. In doing so, the Obama Board effectively subordinated employee privacy considerations to unions’ ability to more easily organize employees.
The proposed rule returns to the pre-2014 requirement that employers provide only the names and addresses of eligible employees. In the proposed rule, the Board reasoned that the current requirement to turn over personal e-mail addresses and phone numbers “affords insufficient weight to employee privacy interests” and eliminating this requirement will “redress this imbalance.” Interested parties may submit comments to the proposed rule here until September 28, 2020.
If the proposed rule becomes final, it will mark yet another rollback of the Obama Board’s R-Case procedure overhaul. In late 2019, the Board revised a number of the 2014 procedures, as we discussed in our December 13, 2019 E-lert. Those revisions largely went into effect on June 1, 2020.
This is unquestionably good news for employers (and many employees). Assuming the proposed rule becomes a final rule, employee privacy will be protected and unions will lose one of their most effective organizing tools: access to employees’ personal e-mail addresses and phone numbers.