Labor Board Union Poster Rule Rejected by Appeals Court

A U.S. labor board rule requiring companies to install workplace posters on union rights was thrown out by an appeals court that said the regulation violates employers’ rights to free speech.

A three judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington today said the National Labor Relations Board’s demand that employers provide information about union organizing, bargaining and protests was so-called compelled speech because it didn’t include opposing information such as how to decertify a union or avoid paying dues.

The rule treats failure to post the required notice “as evidence of anti-union animus in cases involving, for example, unlawfully motivated firings or refusals to hire -- in other words, because it treats such a failure as evidence of an unfair labor practice,” U.S. Circuit Judge A. Raymond Randolph said in the opinion.

The regulation was challenged by the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Right to Work Legal Defense and Education Foundation and other business lobby groups who claimed enactment of the rule would affect more than 6 million employers who otherwise wouldn’t be subject to NLRB regulation.

The rule had been on hold while the appeals court considered its legality.

Hank Breiteneicher, an NLRB spokesman, didn’t immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment on the court’s ruling.

‘Pro-Union Notice’

“The court acknowledged that ‘the choice to speak includes within it the choice of what not to say,’ and that the NLRB overstepped its authority by compelling small-business owners to post a pro-union notice,” Karen Harned, a lawyer at the National Federation of Independent Business, said in an e-mailed statement.

The case is National Association of Manufacturers v. National Labor Relations Board, 12-05068, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (Washington).

To contact the reporter on this story: Tom Schoenberg in Washington at tschoenberg@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.

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