Sunday, August 19, 2018

The National Labor Relations Board, CarMax and Me

The NLRB has five Members and is presently controlled by a Republican majority. The NLRB primarily acts as a quasi-judicial body in deciding cases on the basis of formal records in administrative proceedings. Board Members are appointed by the President to 5-year terms.

Under the President Obama-controlled National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”), a rule was promulgated in 2014 know as the Purple Communications rule. That rule said that Employees who have been given access to their Employer’s email system for work-related purposes have a presumptive right to use that system for Section 7–protected communications on nonworking time. Enacted in 1935, Section 7 refers to the National Labor Relations Act, §7 which guarantees Employees the right to engage in “concerted activities for the purpose of . . . other mutual aid or protection".

It was under that Purple Communications rule that I, on May 1, 2016, when employed at CarMax, sent out seven thousand, five hundred (7,500) emails to CarMax Sales Associates spread out over 159 stores in 38 states.  The email raised wage and working conditions concerns and produced a remarkable response to a Google Forms questionnaire.  Of course, CarMax fired me five days later on May 6, 2016.  My firing is a story for another day.

Why all this is relevant now is this:  Under the President Trump-controlled NLRB, a case has arisen which the Republicans on the NLRB are using to repeal the Purple Communications rule.  This would allow Employers to block use of company email systems for Employee communications regarding union or other protected concerted activity.

Graciously, the NLRB has requested Amicus briefs on whether to repeal the Purple Communications rule.  As I, due to my unique experience at CarMax, have a singular perspective on the inestimable value of maintaining the Purple Communications rule, I have told my CarMax story in my Amicus brief. Through the Exhibits to the Brief are long, the Brief itself is short and makes for an illustrative story of the corrosive power of soulless corporations using Employee-controlling technology to maintain their unfair hegemony which renders the 1935 NLRA virtually meaningless today. Caveat Operarius!


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