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The Department of Labor (DOL) Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) May 20 published a final rule detailing the way federal contractors and subcontractors must display a notice informing employees of their rights to join or not join a union.   

The final rule implements Executive Order 13496 and describes the size, content and location requirements for posting the notice.  The rule applies to all federal contractors performing work on contracts worth more than $100,000 and all federal subcontractors at any tier performing work worth more than $10,000, even if the prime contractor on the project is exempt from the requirement.    

"Importantly, the Labor Department's final rule clarifies that the new notice provision will not be used as a 'backdoor' enforcement mechanism for the substantive provisions of the National Labor Relations Act,” said  Maurice Baskin of Venable LLP, ABC's general counsel. “The Department makes clear that any complaints arising out of union activity will be referred for handling to the National Labor Relations Board, as has always been the case."   

According to the final rule, the notice must be posted physically in a prominent location where employees can easily see it and also must be posted electronically if the employer usually posts notices online.  The notice can be printed from the DOL website and employers that post the notice electronically must link back to the DOL website using the sentence: Important Notice About Employee Rights to Organize and Bargain Collectively with Their Employees.   

E.O. 13496 revoked a previous executive order by President Bush, commonly called the Beck order, that required contractors to informs employees of their rights in refusing to pay union dues earmarked for non-collective bargaining activities, including politics and lobbying.  In response to comments filed by ABC, OLMS revised examples of employer misconduct in the new notice to reflect unlawful union activity as well as misconduct by employers of nonunion companies.