Friday, May 25, 2012
Readers to this blog know that I am interested in the legal question of whether or not a labor relationsprivilege is developing. I have written two law review articles on this topic, the most recent of which is “Is a Full Labor Relations Evidentiary Privilege Developing?“
Maryland now joins Illinois as the only two states that have enacted, by legislation, a labor relations privilege. Senate Bill No. 97, effective Oct. 1, 2012, was recently signed into law by the Governor, here. The statute provides, with certain exceptions:
A labor organization or an agent of a labor organization may not be compelled to disclose any communication or information the labor organization or agent received or acquired in confidence from an employee while the labor organization or agent was acting in a representative capacity concerning an employee grievance
This is a major development and it is my hope that other states follow Maryland and Illinois' lead. Even without explicit legislation, as I argued in my law review article, there is need for courts to recognize a labor relations privilege. Public policy should encourage and support open and frank communications between bargaining unit employees and their unions. This would be healthy for both management and labor. With honest and frank communication, perhaps less industrial strife will occur. Open and honest communications may result in fewer grievances being filed and the filing of grievances with merit.
Hat Tip: Jean Marc Favreau, Esq.
Peer, Gan Geisler, Washington D.C.