I think, in this situation, they were correct. Releasing emails that discuss grievances and other union bargaining issues would be inappropriate.
Well, don't hold your breath kids.
The folks at the National Labor Relations Board, you know the ones who are supposed to be looking out for workers (unless of course, a GOP administration packs the board with pro-business, anti-union flacks), just ruled that employers can restrict the ability of workers to use the company's email system to transmit or receive union-related communications: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/23/us/23labor.html.
The only bright spot is that employers also have to have a blanket ban on employees emailing each other for ALL "non-job related solicitations from outside orgs" (meaning I suppose, no internal emails about the upcoming Girl Scout Cookie sale, or your attempt to sign up sponsors for your "walk for breast cancer"), in order to also block union communications. But in any case, the rule sends a chilling message to members of bargaining units, or those wishing to create bargaining units, namely, that if you want to discuss working conditions with your fellow employees, better find a dark janitor's closet somewhere - and yeah, don't even think about turning on the lights, 'cause then you're spending company money too.
But, of course employers still have the right to hold mandatory "captive audience meetings" where they can indoctrinate employees about any subject they choose, irrespective of whether the subject at-hand has any bearing on work-related activities.
The steward/member relationship should be just as respected as priest/penitent. This is a good ruling.
That said, knowing that the district can look at my email at any time, I sure wouldn't be discussing bargaining strategy.
This is a very bad decision and has nothing to do with Unions in particular. When a disclosure request is made for Whitehouse e-mails couldn't the same argument be made?
Duh, anything you send on your employer's e-mail system can be read by your employer. Thinking otherwise is silly.
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