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Jan
2014
10

#WorkersRights: NLRB Ends Oppressive Social Media Policy at Koch Bros’ Georgia-Pacific

Georgia-Pacific Wood

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Thanks to an NLRB ruling, workers at the Koch-controlled Georgia-Pacific can now discuss the company via social media without concern of being reprimanded or fired for doing so.  

Since 2011, workers at the company were subject to a strict social media policy disallowing them from speaking about the company, whether at work or at home. But as In These Times reports, the policy is now defunct.

It read, previously: “Even if your social media conduct is outside of the workplace and/or non-work related, it must not reflect negatively on GP’s reputation, its products, or its brands.”

In 2012, the Association of Western Pulp and Papers Workers (AWPPW), the union which represents Georgia-Pacific workers in the Pacific Northwest, filed NLRB charges on behalf of the workers saying it was too broad.  While labor law does not protect all forms of worker speech, it does allow the right to advocate on behalf of co-workers.  

With this premise as the basis of the lawsuit, the NLRB reached a settlement with Georgia-Pacific in December.  It halts the company’s social media policy and requires new posted signs in all facilities that read: “WE WILL repeal our social media policy and WE WILL NOT issue policies that interfere with your right to share information relating to wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment, including on social media.”

The settlement also tears down some barriers to the company’s email system according to article athuor Mike Elk:

Under the terms of the agreement, Georgia-Pacific must also now allow employees to use the company email system to share information about working conditions. In addition, the corporation revoked the portions of its Code of Conduct that forbade employees from “sharing personal employee or compensation information with others”—a ban expressly prohibited by federal labor law.

AWPPW Vice President Greg Pallesen said the settlement is a clear victory for workers.

“It was a good win for us. It slows the company down on just implementing things, which they tend to do. This forces them to come to us to negotiate policy,” says Pallesen. “Instead of the employer having 100 percent of the control of speech in the workplace, this gives employees some protection when it comes to ‘protected and concerted efforts’ [to organize at work].”

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