On June 14, 2019, the National Labor Relations Board in UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside held that an employer may bar nonemployees from soliciting its employees on behalf of a union on company property that is open to the public, provided the employer applies its policy in a nondiscriminatory manner and union representatives have other ways to access employees. The NLRB is a federal agency that protects employees’ rights to organize, it holds elections where employees decide whether they want to be represented by a union, and it adjudicates unfair labor practice charges filed against private sector employers and labor organizations.
In UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside, union representatives had entered the employer’s cafeteria that was in the Presbyterian Hospital, met with employees to discuss union organizational campaign matters, and distributed union flyers. When the union representatives refused to leave, the employer had the police remove them, following its practice of removing nonemployees who engaged in any form of promotional activity in or near its cafeteria.
In holding that the employer’s actions were lawful, the NLRB overturned 40 years of precedent and its long-standing “public spaces” exception that had permitted union representatives who were not disruptive to have access to employer-owned public spaces to organize.