Calling it “a major step forward to make sure workers’ rights to organize are protected in the 21st century workplace,” Newspaper Guild-CWA President Bernie Lunzer on Thursday hailed a National Labor Relations Board decision that makes clear the right of workers to use their work email accounts during non-work hours to discuss workplace issues. “We think (the decision) is great for the future of union organizing campaigns and plan to take advantage of the new ruling,” said Cet Parks, Executive Director of the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild...
The Board ruled that employees are presumptively entitled to use their work email outside of work to talk to each other about workplace issues, unless an employer can show special circumstances to justify restrictions on that use. “We believe the board has set a high bar for the company to prohibit email usage,” Lunzer said.
In its decision, the NLRB recognized that email has become a critical means of communication about work-related and other issues. Email has become a "natural gathering place" for many workers, much in the same way the worksite cafeteria is or once was. The NLRB has taken seriously the need to "adapt the (National Labor Relations) Act to the changing patterns of industrial life," especially in light of the pervasiveness of email and the growing use of telework.