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Amy Traub

The 11th Worst Public Policy of 2007?

Each year, those of us at the Drum Major Institute face a dilemma in putting together our annual Year in Review. On the one hand, we need to get the report edited, laid out, printed, and mailed in time to hit mailboxes in mid-December. On the other hand, the year isn't over yet, and public policies, both appalling and terrific continue to go into effect. (On second thought, the policies introduced around the holidays, perhaps when policymakers know most people aren't paying attention, tend to cluster at the appalling end of the scale.) Case in point: the decision by the National Labor Relations Board released the Friday before Christmas ruling that employers have greater latitude to prevent employees from sending union-related email at work.

U.S. labor law generally holds that employees can use employer resources, like bulletin boards or office telephones, to discuss union activities if they're generally allowed to use these resources to communicate about other matters. The ability to communicate with co-workers in the workplace is a core element of Americans' freedom to join unions. But, as this recent ruling demonstrates, the current NLRB dominated by Bush appointees has been steadily narrowing that right. The result? The difficult task of exercising your right to join a union at work is about to get even harder.

If the ruling came out sooner, it might have made our list of the Worst Public Policies of 2007. But one thing's for certain, it illustrates the need for one of our best public policies, The Employee Free Choice Act (see #5 on the list) which we hailed for passing the House in 2007 even as it fell to a Senate filibuster. Let's hope for better in '08.

Amy Traub: Author Bio | Other Posts
Posted at 6:14 AM, Jan 02, 2008 in Labor | Year in Review
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