Free speech: Trump administration wants to kill Scabby the Rat and that’s not all

Media Law Professor Frank D. LoMonte, CNN, June 12, 2019, writes that the Trump administration has clamped down on workers’ rights and seems ready to weaken a section of the 85-year-old National Labor Relations Act that protected the free speech rights of private-sector workers to discuss their working conditions with each other, friends and the media. The act has long been seen as essential to employees in enlisting the public to improve the workplace. A clampdown will make it difficult for reporters to do inside stories revealing corrupt or damaging practices in private industry.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), counsel is also proposing labor law changes to the NLRB including bans on workers’ discussing in-house investigations and the unions’ displaying of an inflatable cartoon balloon, Scabby the Rat, at labor protests.  (Bloomberg News, June 5, 2019, by Robert Iafolla)

Scabby the Rat has been a feature of worker demonstrations for 30 years as a morale builder and way to criticize an employer. It remains to be seen if a government agent, the NLRB, can limit the unions’ free speech activities that do not interfere with business and have no basis for NLRB’s responsibilities under the law. (The American Prospect, January 29, 2019, by Shaun Richman)

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