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Season 3, Episode 93

The NLRB may soon weigh in on legality of captive audience meetings



Guest Name:

Joyce Goldstein

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Joyce Goldstein, a Labor and Employee Benefits Lawyer at Joyce Goldstein & Associates, joined the America’s Work Force Union Podcast and discussed the potential for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to declare captive audience meetings illegal and a violation of national labor laws.

A captive audience meeting is defined as a compulsory meeting of employees arranged by an employer in response to a unionization campaign. In early April, NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo announced in a memo that she will ask the Board to consider captive audience meetings a violation of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

Goldstein explained how captive audience meetings were originally illegal when the NLRA was passed in 1945. However, following the passage of the Taft Hartley Act in 1947, the NLRB revisited the question and in 1948, declared such meetings were protected by employers’ free speech rights.

Abruzzo’s April memo brought up the issue of whether or not an employee’s attendance of a captive audience meeting is truly voluntary, Goldstein said. Abruzzo asked all regional offices to look for labor cases that include captive audience meetings so the board can address the issue, she added.

Several labor cases involving both Amazon and Starbucks employees would be ideal for the NLRB to consider, Goldstein suggested. Earlier this week, an NLRB regional office found that Amazon employees were forced to attend a captive audience meeting, and several were asked to leave because they brought up pro-union talking points, she added.

Goldstein cautioned that these cases could take years to play out, but noted it is a positive development that after 75 years, the NLRB may take the opportunity to say these meetings are not truly voluntary and that workers should not be required to take part. 

Listen to the entire episode to learn more about the NLRB’s consideration of captive audience meetings. 

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