Employers’ Free Speech Challenged Again
Employers are facing another challenge to the right to communicate with their employees in the workplace. A captive audience proposal coming once again from the legislature’s Labor Committee (HB-5460) would strictly limit employers from holding meetings with their employees on a variety of issues key to their jobs.
Two years ago the Labor Committee promoted a similar proposal that ultimately failed. It would have banned “political” topics at required company meetings. Under the bill’s wide definition of political topics, myriad subjects would have been off-limits–such as employee health plans, health and safety issues, government contracts, and developments at the State Capitol.
The proposal is part of a national movement of organized labor to tie the hands of employers who want to communicate with their employees about a variety of issues. Doing that would give unions an advantage in recruiting in Connecticut workplaces.
On the campaign trail last fall, candidates for the legislature said that jobs were their top priority. If that’s the case, they should immediately reject this and other bills with similar “anti-employer” bias.
Just the fact that this proposal (along with those for mandatory paid time off and other measures) is lifted up by state lawmakers sends a strong message that Connecticut is unfriendly to businesses. It’s also unfriendly to employees.
With unemployment stuck at 9% and more than 100,000 people without a job in Connecticut, the Labor Committee would cut employees off from an important source of workplace information—their employers.
Legislation prohibiting employers from discussing such topics at staff meetings denies workers their right to information, a right protected by the National Labor Relations Act. It also tramples on the right of employers to convey needed information to their employees and forces employees to obtain information that could be vital to their interests outside of the workplace, where most employees spend the majority of their time.
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