Buy A Girl Scout Cookie, Get A Union?

COULD GIRL SCOUT COOKIES be dangerous to a company's health? Businesses that are wary of labor organizers should keep the Girl Scouts and charities out of workplaces, says a law firm that advises management. "This is an area where employers are vulnerable," warns Mark Neuberger, a lawyer for Pittsburgh-based Buchanan Ingersoll. Neuberger says that court rulings support a union's right to organize on company property once a no-solicitation policy is breached.

The law has taken on new significance because recently elected AFL-CIO President John Sweeney plans to step up organizing, targeting office and hospital workers. Union officials say that while they don't wish to discourage charity, they would take advantage of any breach opened by solicitors.

Neuberger says that the law allows businesses to let in one big charity, such as United Way, without eroding the no-solicitation policy. While anticookie policies may hurt the Girl Scouts, officials insist that cookie sales, even on icy winter days, depend largely on door-to-door sales rather than office contributions. But don't be surprised if you're hit up for cookie money through a backdoor approach: office E-mail.

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