[JURIST] The National Labor Relations Board [official website] has ruled that employers can ban union-related e-mails as part of a general policy against solicitations from outside organizations while still allowing employees to relay personal messages. In a decision [text] made December 16 but only released Friday, the Republican-dominated Board held 3-2 that the Eugene, Oregon Register-Guard newspaper could properly prohibit one of its employees from using the company e-mail system to distribute what it called "solicitations to support the union". The majority found that the e-mail system was the company's property and the company had the right to regulate use of that property.
An AFL-CIO blog post Sunday called the ruling "the modern day equivalent of blocking us from talking around the office water cooler or using the break room bulletin board" and quoted AFL-CIO General Counsel Jon Hiatt as saying:
Anyone with e-mail knows this is how employees communicate with each other in today’s workplace. Outrageously, in allowing employers to ban such communications for union purposes, the Bush labor board has again struck at the heart of what the nation’s labor laws were intended to protect—the right of employees to discuss working conditions and other matters of mutual concern.
Recent Board rulings allegedly limiting workers' rights came under fire
[Reuters report] from Congressional Democrats at a joint meeting of House and Senate labor committees earlier this month. AP has more