Your Right to Talk (& Wear) Union on the Job

Know your rights on the job when it comes to talking union, wearing union-related gear (including Vote No t-shirts) and passing out information at work.

Federal law, the National Labor Relations Act, gives union members broad rights to discuss union issues, wear union-related t-shirts and stickers, and pass out information at work.

Here are answers to Frequently Asked Questions that Teamsters at UPS and UPS Freight have asked TDU during the contract vote.  But this same information applies to all Teamsters.

If you have a question about your union rights or if management is interfering with your rights, contact TDU.

Am I allowed to pass out leaflets and contract information at work?

You have the right to pass out union information, including Vote No leaflets and the Teamster Voice newspaper, as long as you do it in non-work areas at non-work times.

Non-work areas include the parking lots, break rooms, and locker rooms. Non-work times are before and after work or during a break, including paid breaks.

This protection applies to all information on union issues, including information from TDU, newspaper articles or home-made leaflets. Official union literature is not the only information that is protected.

Can I distribute contract information at the time clock or near the belt?

You have the right to distribute information near the time clock or your belt if everyone is off the clock and if workers routinely gather near the time clock or belt when they are off the clock to have coffee, talk, etc.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), at its highest level, has upheld this right at UPS, in cases won by TDU. (See for example UPS and David Dunning.)

Can management forbid me from telling workers to "Vote No" on the contract?

No. It is against the law for management to prohibit speech because it doesn't like the union content of the speech.

In the same way that employees are allowed to say "happy birthday" or talk about last night's baseball game, they are allowed to say, "Vote No."

Am I allowed to wear a Vote No shirt on the job?

If you are an inside worker, you absolutely have the right to wear a Vote No shirt on the job—or to wear a sticker on your shirt. UPS can prohibit t-shirts that are threatening, racist, sexist, etc. But management cannot ban you from wearing a shirt or sticker because they don’t like the message.

If you are a driver, you can wear a Vote No shirt while you are off the clock, for example if you are leafleting in the parking lot. But you have to conform with the company’s appearance policy when you are on the job.

My manager said that my "End Part-Time Poverty at UPS" t-shirt is insulting to the company and it misuses the UPS logo.

Too bad for your manager. The NLRB has consistently ruled against employers that try to ban t-shirts that are offensive. For example, the NLRB ruled in favor of the right of union members to wear "Prisoner of AT$T" shirts during a contract fight there.

Management cannot ban a t-shirt unless it is threatening, discriminatory or likely to cause fear among employees. The only thing scary in this instance is how low part-time wages are at UPS!

Federal law also allows for the use of the UPS logo or any other corporate logo for the purpose of parody. 

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