Social media are presenting new challenges for unions as employers develop policies and discipline employees for their posts on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. But whether workers are talking to each other in the lunch room or online, labor law still provides protections for private-sector workers to engage in concerted activities with their co-workers.
From the press release:
The National Labor Relations Board’s Acting General Counsel today released a report detailing the outcome of investigations into 14 cases involving the use of social media and employers’ social and general media policies.
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From the press release:
A new national survey from the Pew Internet & American Life Project shows that 62% of adults who are currently employed use the internet or email at work and they have mixed views about the impact of technology on their work lives.
On the one hand, they cite the benefits of increased connectivity and flexibility that the internet and all of their various gadgets afford them at work. On the other hand, many workers say these tools have added stress and new demands to their lives.
This survey, “Networked Workers,” also finds that 96% of those who work use the internet, email or have a cell phone for some purpose in their lives, even if those things are not specifically tied to work. We call this larger group “Wired and Ready Workers.” When they are asked about the impact of these technologies on their work lives:
– 80% say these technologies have improved their ability to do their job.
– 73% say these technologies have improved their ability to share ideas with co-workers.
– 58% say these tools have allowed them more flexibility in the hours they work.
At the same time, Wired and Ready Workers note various negative impacts of information and communications technologies on their work lives:
– 49% say these technologies increase the level of stress in their job.
– 49% say these technologies make it harder for them to disconnect from their work when they are at home and on the weekends.
– 46% say these tools increase demands that they work more hours.
Times have changed. Americans, and particularly American workers, live in a much more socially isolated world than they did in the past. Union halls and employee group bowling are rare these days. In some respects, the Internet and today’s “virtual world” have contributed to these developments. For example, when employees are telecommuting or working “virtually” off-site, developing a strong sense of community with their colleagues is far more difficult. But while the Internet may be part of the problem, it also has the potential to be part of the solution.