January 3, 2014: UPS is claiming the right to discipline Teamsters based on company “Social Media Guidelines” that govern everything from online chat rooms and forums to blogs, and Facebook.
UPS says “Activities that violate the standards outlined in these guidelines can lead to disciplinary action, including job termination.”
But will management’s attempts to control what you post on Facebook lead to a face-plant for Big Brown?
The NLRB has thrown out employer social media policies that are overly broad and would prohibit or have a chilling effect on workers’ legal rights to discuss wages, working conditions, or union issues.
UPS’s guidelines, which are posted at UPSers.com, ban virtually any online speech on union or workplace issues and clearly violate the National Labor Relations Act.
The guidelines state that: Employees should “Follow company procedures for employee concerns” and “Publicizing your concerns through social media is not an effective or appropriate manner to get issues resolved.”
Elsewhere, the UPS guidelines say: “Social networks or other tools hosted outside of UPS’s protected Intranet environment should not be used for internal communication among fellow employees. It is fine for UPSers to disagree, but please don’t use your external blog or other online social media to air your differences in an inappropriate manner.”
As written, these guidelines illegally prohibit concerted activity by Teamsters and other employees that is protected by the National Labor Relations Act.
The company’s social media rules need to be thrown out and re-written in negotiations with our union.
UPS management can’t be happy at how effectively UPS Teamsters used Facebook to build rank-and-file opposition to the contract, but the company can’t put the technology genie back in the bottle.
That doesn’t mean that Teamsters can post anything they want to about UPS without consequences. You can be legally disciplined in some cases for what you post, even if it’s on your own time and on your personal Facebook page.
For more information on union member rights (and wrongs) on Facebook, read “Can the Boss Fire Me for Facebook?”