The Secretary of Labor has finalized implementing regulations under Executive Order 13496, which requires federal contractors and subcontractors covered by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to post a new notice advising employees of their rights under the Act. Note that most employers in the private sector are covered by the NLRA; the Order is not limited to companies with union activity or representation.
The regulations are codified at Title 29, Part 471 of the Code of Federal Regulations. The Department of Labor (DOL) also provides a helpful fact sheet about the new requirement.
Executive Order 13496 was signed by President Obama on January 30, 2009. It revokes Executive Order 13201, which required posting of the “Beck Poster” (the Beck Poster advised employees they could not be compelled to join a union or maintain a union membership to keep their jobs, and could restrict the use of their union dues for certain purposes). The goal of the Order is to ensure federal contracts will not be interrupted by labor unrest. It is premised on the idea that industrial peace is best achieved by informing workers of their rights under Federal labor law.
After almost a year and a half of rulemaking, the form of the new notice has been finalized. Hard copies can be obtained from the DOL’s Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) at (202) 693-0123 or by email request at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What The Notice Does
The new notice informs employees of their rights to organize, join a union, bargain collectively, and engage in other protected concerted activity under the NLRA. It also gives examples of illegal conduct by employers and unions, and gives contact information for National Labor Relations Board.
Is Your Company Affected?
Companies should carefully scrutinize any federal contracts or subcontracts that are signed or modified after June 21, 2010. The new posting obligation is triggered by the government agency or department’s inclusion of a notice clause in the government contract. The clause may not be included in full, however, so also look for inclusion by reference to “29 CFR Part 471, Appendix A to Subpart A.”
Exceptions to the posting requirement include federal contracts under $100,000, subcontracts below $10,000, and contracts/subcontracts for work to be performed exclusively outside the territorial U.S. Also, employers who exclusively employ workers excluded from coverage under the NLRA are not covered.
What Should You Do To Comply?
If the notice clause is present in your contract, the company must conspicuously post the prescribed notice wherever employees covered by the NLRA are engaged in activities related to performance of the contract. The notice must be posted in all places where notices to employees are customarily posted, both electronically and physically. Physical postings must be on 11×17 size paper. For electronic postings, the employer must provide an electronic link to the actual notice. If a large portion of the company’s workforce is not proficient in English, a translated notice must be provided. Translations can be obtained from the OLMS.
In addition, the contractor must include provisions requiring posting of the same notice in all subcontracts entered into in connection with the contract.
Penalties and Enforcement
The Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) will conduct evaluations to determine compliance with the new requirement. It is thus particularly important for any company undergoing audit by the OFCCP to ensure the new notice is posted by June 21, 2010. The OFCCP has issued a Powerpoint Presentation of guidance to federal contractors. Employees also may file complaints about noncompliance.
Failure to comply with the notice and posting obligation can result in cancellation, termination or suspension of the government contract, in whole or in part. The contractor may also be declared ineligible for further government contracts. In addition, the Secretary of Labor may publish the names of any contractors that have failed to comply.