PERB says Workers Can Wear Union sticker -- “UCSD Management NEEDS TO LISTEN TO NURSES”

Union nurses at the University of California, San Diego Health Center (“UCSDH”) wore stickers saying “UCSD Management Needs to Listen to Nurses” as a part of a Union ‘sticker up’ campaign. The sticker was distributed as a signal of solidarity for a Union member facing discipline. UCSDH banned the sticker, claiming it violated the UCSDH code of conduct.

As the California Public Employees Relations Board (PERB) explained, “employees have a right to wear union insignia and buttons at their workplace,” a right derived from an “employees’ right to participate in the activities of an employee organization of their own choosing for the purpose of representation on all matters of employer-employee relations.” A closely related right is the right of employee organizations to communicate with employees at the work site, including by wearing insignia for that purpose.  These rights flow from those given to exclusive representatives and the right of access, both of which allow employees to demonstrate union solidarity and pride. Communication by employees and their organizations concerning workplace disputes are included within those rights.

According to PERB: “Wearing a button, sticker, or other article with a message about an employee organization or about working conditions is far less disruptive to the working environment than face-to-face solicitation or literature distribution” so it’s legal and non-disruptive.

PERB held that restrictions on insignia are allowed only if “special circumstances” warrant, which the employer has the burden to prove. UCSD could not show that “special circumstances” applied, so the sticker was lawful.

UCSDH has (of course) appealed the decision – they evidently don’t want nurses to have any free speech rights at all, not even to wear a sticker.

Regents of the University of California (CNA) (2018) PERB Decision No. 2616-H

By Paul Pfeilschiefter | February 28, 2019

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