August 03, 2005

No Fraternization

The NLRB has taken inanity to all new depths. That's right, your employer can legally prevent you from fraternizing with your co-workers on your own time.

Now, I want to caution you that the above new link is to a website that bears an obvious pro-union bias. That said, I'm pretty sure that any sort of ban of this nature is against the spirit of the First Amendment, even if such protections would only be afforded to employees of the state.

As the article goes on to mention, such bans would obviously become illegal if the aforemention fraternization were to come under the legally protected under the auspices of the National Labor Relations Act's provision for "self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations…and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection..." That said, I must agree with the American Rights at Work article that a good number of employees do not know their rights and would be hesitant to fight their managers and consult a lawyer should such an order to "cease fraternizing" be issued.

To make a long story short, there are a good number of employees who do not enjoy adequate protections against the multi-million dollar corporations for whom they work. If your employer broke the law in its dealings with you, could you afford to bring the legal muscle to bear to get a large company to back down? Do you, individually, have the courage to go to battle all by yourself?

There was a time that I would have argued that the need for unions is in the past... especially as I worked within a union shop. And then I started working for companies where I worked "at will" and quickly realized that there are some employers whose employees need to be protected from them, and that a union may well be the best way to organize that sort of protection.

Now, before anyone goes jumping down my throat and pointing out the traditional problems of corruption, mafia affiliation, and bizarre politics brought on by many unions... trust me, I know. Remember, I was a member of the UFCW-1099, and subsequently the AFL-CIO for two years... not to mention an avid student of mob history and a former resident of New York. But the flip side of the coin is those corporations like Enron and concerns like Arthur-Anderson who are no less corrupt and arguably far more powerful. There's enough corruption to go all the way around... and the weakest party ought to be afforded some small protection. Especially for something as simple as associating with his friends from work.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at August 3, 2005 11:26 PM | TrackBack