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FALL 2017

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Distributor's Link Magazine Fall Issue 2017 / Vol 40 No4


68 THE DISTRIBUTOR’S LINK Jim Truesdell James Truesdell is President of Brauer Supply Company, a distributor of specialty fasteners, insulation, air filtration, and air conditioning with headquarters in St. Louis. Mr. Truesdell is adjunct professor at Saint Louis University and Webster University. An attorney and frequently published writer, he is the author of “Total Quality Management: Reports From the Front Lines”. SOCIAL MEDIA AND EMPLOYEE FREE SPEECH It seems like no rules apply to the social media universe! People are letting it all hang out emotionally and don’t hold back from talking about the things they dislike when communicating on Facebook, Twitter or other forums. Whether it is complaining about a spouse or significant other, divulging one’s innermost feelings, or commenting on our divisive political environment, people say what they feel and think about it later. Sometimes they sign their name and sometime they post what they have to say anonymously. So what does this mean to an employer? What if an employee talks about the inner workings of his employer’s company? What if he or she spills embarrassing secrets or gossip that harms public perception of the company and its products or services? What if he or she gives vent to extreme negative feelings about a supervisor, senior management, or company policies with which he or she disagrees? Can the company do anything to limit this kind of activity? The answer is “it depends.” And the law and administrative rulings are making it increasingly difficult for companies to do anything about it. The first way in which an employer might address this is by establishing a policy outlining what is and is not acceptable employee references to the workplace CONTRIBUTOR ARTICLE while engaged in social media. The problem is, however, that recent case law and rulings of the National Labor Relations Board have narrowed the kinds of restrictions that a company can place on this kind of communication and can prohibit discipline related to postings critical of the Company. This all arises out of interpretations of Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act. That is the provision which protects union activity as well as non-union activity where employees act in concert for “mutual aid and protection” in their jobs when they are seeking to improve terms and conditions of employment. Whether or not social media expression is a protected, concerted activity under the law comes down to whether the activity is (a) in “concert” (that is employees acting together and not just as individuals) and (b) whether this action is taken for “mutual aid and protection.” The problem is that these concepts are being expanded by those issuing legal rulings to imply that there is concerted activity for the general benefit of employees even if the concerted activity is not overt, i.e. it grows out of some prior group activity or even when an employee is acting formally or informally on behalf of the group, or is soliciting others to engage in group activities. CONTINUED ON PAGE 170

RHS STAINLESS THE DISTRIBUTOR’S LINK 69 2863 Brodhead Road, Bethlehem, PA 18020 TEL 610-997-7604 EMAIL WEB THE DISTRIBUTOR’S CHOICE FOR STAINLESS BAR PRODUCTS RHS Stainless, a name inspired by the stainless shapes we sell, was founded in 2001 and has been leading the way with the supply of Domestic and DFAR compliant Stainless Round products to the Fastener Industry. We understand the different ways of manufacturing fasteners, therefore RHS Stainless has emerged to be one of the most prominent and diverse suppliers to the Industry. The world moves fast – lead times are short – delivery is critical. We understand these demands and that’s why we support the industry with one of the most developed inventories of Domestic Stainless Round Bar to ASTM A193 B8 and B8M. We have ready to ship today a comprehensive inventory of the most common Pitch Diameter Sizes as well as nearly every Nominal Size both in a variety of lengths. From day one, RHS Stainless has maintained high quality standards. As bar rolls into our facility it undergoes an extensive inspection, examining diameter and length tolerances, surface conditions, heat numbers, grades and weights. This is our way of ensuring you receive exactly what you expect as well as reduce the release of substandard material. Logistically, over the past decade, we’ve figured out how to deliver our product across the nation. Whether it’s with one of our national box truck carriers or with a national flat-bed partner, we impose stringent standards so that they can move your material to you carefully and efficiently anywhere in the U.S.A. The people at RHS Stainless are committed to you, our amazing customers. We are also here to help those who would like to develop the Stainless side of their business. RHS believes we can all work together toward a common goal of fastening and strengthening the infrastructure of our great nation. We are all in this together and RHS is here to help and support the Fastener Industry. BUSINESS FOCUS ARTICLE RHS STAINLESS


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