NLRB: Mercedes Violated Labor Law by Restricting Distribution of Union Material

If your company is tempted to declare certain areas of your workplace as off-limits to union activity, think again.

The National Labor Relations Board ruled in late November that Mercedes committed an unfair labor practiced by preventing members of the United Auto Workers from distributing literature at the company’s Alabama plant.

Under the ruling by the three-member NLRB panel, Mercedes must update its employee handbook to say that workers are allowed to discuss union issues during non-work times and that they can solicit their colleagues in mixed-use areas like team centers and atriums.

Mercedes must also post notices at the plant near Tuscaloosa to acknowledge the violation and to reaffirm that management won’t “interfere with, restrain, or coerce” workers seeking to unionize the plant.

The board adopted the administrative law judge’s recommendation finding that Mercedes violated Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act by

(a) Maintaining an overly broad solicitation and distribution rule which employees reasonably would understand to prohibit solicitation, in work areas, by employees not on working time of other employees not on working time.

(b) Prohibiting an employee not on working time from distributing union literature in one of Respondent’s team centers, which are mixed use areas within the Respondent’s plant ; and

(c) Prohibiting employees not on working time from distributing union literature in the atrium, which is a mixed use area within the Respondent’s plant.

The board’s ruling in Mercedes-Benz U.S. International (MBUSI) is available through the NLRB’s decisions web page.



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