Employee Committees and Work Teams Can Be Problematic for Non-Union Companies

4/1/1999

MoFo News Item

Workplaces have changed dramatically since the 1930s when the National Labor Relations Act was enacted. Obviously, in our increasingly complex economy, there are now all kinds of workplaces and a myriad of ways for companies to manage their employees and solve problems in the workplace. One method that many non-union companies have opted to utilize in solving internal company problems is to form employee committees. Employee committees, workplace committees, work teams or action committees, as they are called, are designed to improve communications between management and employees and sometimes resolve workplace issues. Unfortunately, such committees can subject an employer to liability under the current labor laws which are still being interpreted in a way which does not reflect the changes in the workplace, as well as the permanent place unions now occupy in the workplace. The problems arise because the National Labor Relations Board ("NLRB") views employee committees with any authority or power as improper substitutes for collective bargaining. If union activity involving the employer begins, the existence of such committees can be especially problematic and bring charges of unfair labor practices. While Congress has passed legislation to remedy this problem, the bill that reached President Clinton's desk in 1996 (the TEAM Act) was vetoed. If you are interested in receiving the full text of this publication, please send an e-mail request to info@mofo.com.

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