Federal Contractors Must Continue to Post Union Rights Notice

By Cris Naser

On May 7, the federal District Court for the District of Columbia rejected a challenge by the National Association of Manufacturers et al. to the Department of Labor rule requiring federal contractors to post a notice of employee rights under the National Labor Relations Act. DOL’s rule took effect on June 21, 2010, but was challenged in this lawsuit.

The court held that the posting requirement does not violate employers’ First Amendment rights because the rule does not compel a federal contractor to speak at all. “Rather, the contractor is required to host government speech as a condition of receipt of a federal contract.” The court noted that a contractor has a choice between posting the notice or foregoing federal contracting. The court also noted that the rule does not interfere with an employer’s right to express its own views on union organizing. “Indeed, nothing in the rule prevents a contractor from creating its own posting” and placing it next to the DOL’s notice to make it clear that the DOL’s notice does not express the employer’s opinion.

Because DOL’s rule broadly defines a “government contract” to include agreements whereby the federal government obtains “fund depository” services, employment law experts believe the rule applies to banks that have Treasury Tax & Loan accounts with federal government agencies or that provide services related to U.S. savings bonds, or that have other types of government contracts.