The National Labor Relations Board Thursday said hair stylists and other employees for Regis Corp. and its related chain of salons must be given the right to organize labor unions.

The NLRB settlement requires Regis to post notices in employee sections of its stores that they have the right to "form, join or assist a union" and that they cannot be fired for doing so.

In a statement the company said, "Regis Corporation is comfortable with the agreement it reached with the NLRB and fully complying with its terms."

The settlement stems from complaints in several salon locations two years ago that workers were being required to sign agreements that revoked their future right to form a union. The agreement statements were given to employees at a time when Congress was debating legislation to make it easier to form unions.

The company also distributed and played a DVD for employees that said salons could close if workers chose union representation.

The company has previously asserted that a unionized workforce would put Regis at a competitive disadvantage.

Complaints were filed by employees at Regis-owned salons in Wisconsin, Florida, New York and Indiana.

The settlement was filed Thursday by the NLRB in Florida. The settlement is specific to Regis and consolidates all of the other union complaints against the company.

"The right to form a union and to engage in concerted action to improve working conditions is a basic human right throughout the world including, now, at Regis," said Pete Meyers, whose organization, the Tompkins County Workers Centers, represented employees at a Cost Cutters in Ithaca, N.Y.

In addition to the posted notices, Regis agreed as part of the NLRB settlement to provide a DVD version of the notice to be shown to all employees who saw the anti-union DVD.

"Charges usually just involve a single facility," said Marlin Osthus, regional director of the Minneapolis NLRB office. "What makes this unusual is that the DVD was played at virtually every facility that Regis owns."

The settlement applies only to the 6,500 Regis-owned stores, which includes Regis, Supercuts, Cost Cutters, MasterCuts and Hair Club for Men and Women. Regis also has more than 6,000 franchised stores that are not affected by the settlement.

In the posting and on the DVD, Regis also will tell employees it will not ask them to use a company hotline to report union activities and will not tell them that they will have difficulties finding another job if an employee joins or supports a union. The posting also says the company cannot threaten that "severe consequences," will occur with union representation, including loss of scheduling flexibility.

The "Notice to Employees" must be up in a visible place where employee notices usually are displayed for 60 consecutive days. The DVD has to be shown to employees within 105 days.

David Phelps • 612-673-7269