Federal agency says Federalist publisher’s tweet violated labor law

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Ben Domenech, publisher and co-founder of The Federalist, violated labor law when he tweeted that he would send any of his employees who attempted to form a union to the “salt mine,” the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) held Tuesday.

A decision posted on the NLRB’s website indicated that the board agreed with an administrative judge, Kenneth Chu, who ruled in April that Domenech’s tweet had served the purpose of discouraging employees from pursuing unionization efforts even if it was taken as a joke by Domenech and others.

“We find that employees would reasonably view the message as expressing an intent to take swift action against any employee who tried to unionize the Respondent. In addition, the reference to sending that employee ‘back to the salt mine’ reasonably implied that the response would be adverse,” read the ruling from NLRB Chairman John Ring (R) as well as members Lauren McFerran (D) and Marvin Kaplan (R).

“[W]e shall order the Respondent to direct Domenech to delete the statement from his personal Twitter account, and to take appropriate steps to ensure Domenech complies with the directive,” the NLRB panel continued.

Lawyers for FDRLST Media told Bloomberg Law that they would appeal the decision in federal court.

“Today’s decision shows that NLRB lacks both common sense and a sense of humor,” Aditya Dynar said in a statement. “It disregarded sworn employee statements saying that they perceived the tweet as just a joke.”

Domenech told The Hill in an emailed statement that his company “can’t wait to appeal, and to sell more t-shirts,” referring to a humorous t-shirt design in The Federalist’s web store bearing an image of two pickaxes and a facetious logo for “The Federalist Salt Mining Co.”

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