NLRB: Employees Have No Right to Email About Unions

Not news: Employees use email for personal reasons. News: Employees have no special right to use email for union activities. Employees and their advocates argued to the National Labor Relations Board that employers' property rights should yield to employees' right to communicate under section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act. In a case of first impression, the NLRB said "no" in The Guard Publishing Company, opinion here. So, Employers have the right to ban employees from using their email system for personal reasons.
But if employees email each other about sports, gossip, etc., can the employer selectively ban union talk? Not necessarily. Employers that single out section 7 rights for discriminatory treatment commit an unfair labor practice under section 8(a)(3) of the NLRA. The Board had an answer for that issue as well. In the opinion, the Board re-defined what constitutes "discrimination" in the context of employer policies. The employer may lawfully ban communications about non-work-related activities, so long as the employer's distinctions are not "along section 7 lines." Example: the employer may allow solicitations by charitable organizations, but ban all other solicitations (including by unions).
The decision was 3-2 over a strong dissent, the Board is about to turn over some members, and I hear there's an election coming up next year. So, the degree to which employers may rely on this decision for the long term is unclear. For now, however, employers have more latitude regarding their policies regarding the use of employer property, and their solicitation and distribution policies.