Last week, employment blogs and news outlets were all abuzz about a new page by the National Labor Relations Board on its website about “protected concerted activities”.
I’ve been trying to figure out whether or what to write about on it. (If you’re concerned about the new webpage, then first go to the Delaware Employment Law Blog for Molly DiBianca’s even-handed take on it and then come back here.)
After all, the NLRB’s expanded definition of “protected concerted activities” has been playing out in the social media sphere for over two years.
(Even back in 2007, I was noting that the federal labor laws can apply to non-union employers.)
But what some of the posts seem to have in common is an element of surprise that the government (yes, the government) is actually using 21st century technology to advance its mission. It is, to some, SHOCKING that the government would do so. But I’m not sure why that is. Is it because the government has been so far behind technology that it’s remarkable when they play catch up?
But here’s the question people should be asking: Is the NLRB using technology effectively? To that question, the answer seems to be “not yet.”
On the web-ranking site Alexa, the NLRB ranks just 538,775 among websites in popularity. In contrast, the legal blog Overlawyered.com — which routinely challenges the NLRB — ranks 378972.
Moreover, for the NLRB, just 14% of its traffic comes from search engines and of that traffic, the majority of people are looking for things like “nlrb” or “nlrb posters” or “national labor relations board”. I’d hazard a guess that the majority of the other traffic comes from attorneys using the system for filings, research,and the like.
By these measures, the NLRB is doing a lot of the proverbial spitting in the wind.
So, yes, the NLRB has a new page that again makes it clear that the agency is trying to expand its reach to non-union employers. But as technology marches, it’s not so surprising anymore that the government would use technology too. The “protected concerted activities” page is just the latest example of how agencies can convey information.
For employers, I’d be less concerned about the webpage and more concerned about what your employees are thinking about your company.
(And if you’re still playing catchup on “text message” speak from the title, here’s the 411 on all the phrases.)