Employers Won't Have To Tell Workers Their Labor Rights After All

The sign for the National Labor Relations Board is seen on the building that houses their headquarters in downtown Washington
The sign for the National Labor Relations Board is seen on the building that houses their headquarters in downtown Washington, Wednesday, July 17, 2013. For such a tiny government agency, the NLRB has played an outsize role in the heated Senate filibuster fight over Obama administration nominations. But the board has long been at the center of a decades-long clash between labor unions looking to organize new members and business groups seeking to limit the role of unions in the workplace. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick)

WASHINGTON -- A surprisingly controversial rule that would have required businesses to hang posters in the workplace spelling out U.S. workers' labor rights will no longer go into effect, HuffPost learned Friday.

The National Labor Relations Board, the agency responsible for enforcing labor law on unions and companies, had until Thursday to appeal to the Supreme Court an unfavorable court decision against the rule, which the NLRB issued in 2011. The agency let the deadline pass and does not plan to challenge the decision.

"The NLRB is committed to ensuring that workers, businesses and labor organizations are informed of their rights and obligations under the National Labor Relations Act," said Gregory J. King, a spokesman for the board. "We will continue our national outreach efforts to educate the American people about this statute."

An official familiar with the decision to let Thursday's deadline pass, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told HuffPost that there were concerns at the Justice Department that an adverse decision from the Supreme Court could create problems for other agencies.

The expiration of the deadline brings to a close one of the more bizarre attacks from the right against the labor board in recent years. The proposal would have required that businesses hang 11-by-17-inch posters spelling out a worker's right to join, or to not join, a union, among other prescriptions of the NLRA. (The poster can be viewed here.) These postings are similar to others that already hang, according to the law, in the American workplace, such as those explaining the minimum wage. The agency said the posters at issue would be made available to employers at no cost.

"We've been one of the few agencies that enforce workplace laws that haven’t had some kind of posting up," an agency spokeswoman explained to HuffPost in 2011.

But business groups reacted fiercely, with the National Federation of Independent Business deriding it as a "punitive new rule" and a lobbyist with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce deeming it a "gift to organized labor."

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit struck down the rule earlier this year. The National Association of Manufacturers, which was one of the groups that sued, cheered the passing of the deadline on Friday.

"Manufacturers start off the new year with great news in our fight against an overreaching NLRB," Jay Timmons, the group's president, said in a statement. "This is the culmination of the NAM’s aggressive legal pursuit against a government-imposed regulation that would create a hostile work environment while injecting politics into manufacturers’ day-to-day business operations."

Business groups and many congressional Republicans have assailed the labor board's decisions and rules issued during the Obama presidency. Deeming the agency too friendly to labor unions, GOP leaders nearly shut down the board last year in a Senate fight over confirmations.

According to the NLRB, the posters spelling out workers' rights will remain available online for printing for any businesses that choose to hang them.

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