Labor Board considering ending 2014 policy that forces employers to disclose workers’ private phone and email information to union officials, even over workers’ objections
Washington, DC (September 28, 2020) – Today the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation submitted comments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in support of a proposal amending its rules governing voter list contact information to better protect workers’ privacy. The public comment period for the proposed changes closes September 28th, with reply comments accepted until October 13th.
The new rule, if adopted by the Board, would eliminate a requirement imposed by the Obama-era NLRB in 2014 that expanded the information employers must provide to union organizers to include personal phone numbers and email addresses. The current rule requires that union officials be given the information even over the objections of individual workers.
In the comments, Foundation Vice President and Legal Director Raymond LaJeunesse argues that the 2014 rule violates workers’ privacy and leaves them vulnerable to harassment, identity theft, and property crime. As the comments point out, union militants have a history of misusing workers’ private information.
For example, agents of Communication Workers of America Local 1103 in Connecticut signed Patricia Pelletier up for hundreds of unwanted magazines and consumer products in apparent retaliation for her leading the effort to hold a vote to remove the union from her workplace. As noted in the Foundation’s comments, “Not only was Pelletier forced to spend several hours each day canceling individual subscriptions and products, but she was billed for thousands of dollars by unwitting marketers and publishing companies, jeopardizing her credit rating and causing her severe emotional distress.”
The comments also cite examples of how union militants can use that information to harass independent-minded workers: “Militant union supporters may use personal information to retaliate against individuals who dare oppose the union that they support—incessant and late night phone calls, threatening emails, using the email addresses to sign employees up for spam or malware, and the theft or destruction of their property when they are not at home. For example, UPS employee Rod Carter began to receive threatening late-night phone calls following his opposition to a strike by the Teamsters, and was ultimately stabbed with an ice pick by Teamsters militants who tracked his driving route.”
As the comments demonstrate, the potential for misuse of private information is significant, especially for those who speak out against a union. Yet, under the current NLRB rules an individual cannot even request to have his or her information withheld. Employers must disclose the phone numbers and email addresses of every employee to union organizers.
The NLRB’s current rules purport to limit misuse of personal data by limiting union officials’ use of the information to “the representation proceeding, Board proceedings, and related matters.” But, the Foundation’s comments argue that this supposed limitation is both “meaningless and unenforceable,” and that “the only way to protect employees’ privacy and safety in the first place is not to compel disclosure of their personal information to unions, or, at the very least, to allow employees to opt out of any mandatory disclosure of their personal information.”
“Given the long and sordid history of harassment, identity theft, stalking and worse by union militants against workers who refuse to toe the union line, limiting the private contact information required to be handed over to union organizers is just plain common sense,” said National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation president Mark Mix. “The Board should adopt this rule without delay so that independent-minded workers do not find themselves targeted using private contact information handed over to union organizers even over workers’ objections.”
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, assists thousands of employees in more than 250 cases nationwide per year.