Unions are experiencing a surge of new interest, as they promise security and safety to workers shaken by the uncertainty of today's economy. Is your company at risk of unionization, and if so, would you even know it? Today, we've got seven simple steps to keep your company union-free. Being aware that trouble could be looming is the first step, but - it's what you do next that matters.
Projections, Inc. has had decades of experience helping companies to overcome challenges with employee engagement and retention, and believe in the importance of developing a positive employee relations strategy to stay union-free. In that time, we've had the honor of working with thousands of companies, reaching millions of employees, helping to build better leaders, improve engagement, and keep organizations union-free.
Proactive, Not Reactive
It's within your ability to maintain a workplace that is not vulnerable to unionization. The key is making your employees feel as though they have a voice -- after all, who wants to work for a company when they feel as though they're an outsider? In fact, many employees rate feeling 'in on things' as their #1 factor for job satisfaction. The importance of a positive employee relations strategy, where employees feel heard, respected, and appreciated cannot be downplayed. We've previously shared some employee relations best practices you can utilize to stay union-free.
Whether you become more accountable or implement a grievance procedure plan before any issues arise, the actions you take todaycould significantly influence your company's vulnerability to unionization. Always keep this in the back of your mind:proactive, not reactive.
There's no better time than today to take these seven steps to keep your company union-free.
Step #1: Train Your Leaders
The first of the steps to keep your company union-free is to provide your frontline leaders with the skills and knowledge they need to maintain a direct connection with your employees and take action when necessary. Trained supervisors are more confident and able to address questions about union organizing. When employees trust that leaders have their best interests in mind, and trust the factual information their supervisor provides, they're less likely to turn to a union to get the information they need.
Don't expect your leaders to become labor relations experts, but training them on the basics of positive employee relations and what to do in a campaign situation provides everyone with peace of mind. Be sure to include the TIPS and FOE rules in any training you provide.
Consider an ongoing training resource specifically for the purpose of connecting with leaders who have daily employee contact. An online toolkit can provide consistency and the information your leaders need to keep YOU informed as well. This leader-facing website can help your teams recognize, respond to and discuss any signs of employee disengagement or union activity before it's too late.
Step #2: Communicate Regularly
When you're informed, you're at an advantage. In many cases, small unresolved issues create a negative snowball effect. What may have been resolved easily at first can spiral out of control based on employee frustration. After all, one of the greatest supervisor-controlled conditions that influence unionization is a lack of awareness.
As an employer or manager, understanding employees' concerns before they arise is the second of the steps to keep your company union-free. If individuals have already come to you expressing their concerns, listen to them and respond accordingly. The worst thing you can do is fail to acknowledge their concerns. The best thing you can do is strengthen the relationship you have with your employees.Maintain an open-door policy where employees know they can come to management with any questions, concerns, or simply a conversation when they need to.
If you're not aware of any ongoing issues, seek feedback from your employees. Ask them for their opinions. You can speak with them directly or offer an anonymous survey. At the end of the day, if you're rigid and disregard any new ideas suggested by your employees, you will likely see a change not only in their attitude, but work ethic.
Step #3: Maintain a Safe & Socially Responsible Working Environment
The reality of the situation is that, in order to organize workers, unions can and do exploit certain types of employees and companies -- so don't give them a reason to. The third of the steps to keep your company union free starts with how you run your company in terms of safety. This is a factor that's directly in your control, and can be addressed proactively and visibly in order to optimize your employees' work environment.
If employees stress the fact that they do not feel safe under certain conditions, it's the Company's responsibility to address these concerns. In addition, in order to go above and beyond, seek awards and training programs that reinforce the importance of safety in the workplace. Show your staff that they have the right to work in a safe, fair and secure environment.
Addressing employee safety is closely tied to corporate social responsibility. Be sure that you're communicating the ways in which your company is caring for the needs of the community, as well as the needs of employees, and don't give unions any reason to call your company's integrity into question.
Step #4: Be Pro-Worker
Many employers and managers approach the issue of unionization reactively. But the next item in your steps to keep your company union free is to always keep your employees' needs in mind. In the face of a union organizing effort, instead of creating a positive work environment and highlighting the needs of employees, many companies immediately begin to attack the opposition -- in this case, the union-- often alienating workers in the process.
Without realizing it, you may inspire unionization through your own actions. If you hear "union talk" during working hours, this will be your first red flag. How you approach this information could make or break your desired outcome. Don't start making demands because you're the boss and fear change -- request the attention of your workers to speak in a constructive manner.
Of course, you need to take a stand and remain authoritative, but you'll also want your leaders to focus on a respectful and supportive approach. Show your workers that you appreciate the work they do. This can be as simple as giving recognition where it's due and celebrating achievements.
Step #5: Educate Your Employees Based On Your Experiences
You and your leaders can legally inform your employees based on any prior experience you have had. It's important for your employees to hear both sides of the issues -- so that they are not making decisions with half the information they need. After all, it's important that they know thatunion promises are no guarantee of improved wages or working conditions.
If at any point a union representative has approached your employees and you've become aware of untrue statements, take a stand. Call a meeting and address any misleading facts, setting the record straight. Be open to questions and remain calm. You want to show your employees that you're on their side. Also, highlight the fact that union dues could be deducted from their pay -- especially if wages are an ongoing issue.
Step #6: Know How to Recognize The Signs
If you notice that there are early warning signs of possible union-organizing, this is the time to step in. Do not wait until the union gets involved before speaking to those involved. Knowing is half the battle, so be aware of the following:
- More activity than usual during employees breaks or lunches.
- Increased employee gatherings that tend to break up when supervisors or manager approach them.
- An increase in employee after-hour gathering.
- Changes in employee complaints -- whether in terms of the nature of their complaints or the frequency.
- Complaints being made by employee representatives.
- Former employees hanging around the premises, especially those who were discharged.
- Signs that the union has been speaking with employees -- for example, cards or leaflets left on the premises.
Of course, the ultimate goal is to be proactive, before any serious complaints arise. With that being said, in the event that you notice any of the early warning signs listed above, a rapid reactive approach is recommended. Immediately publicize an open-door policy, encouraging employees to speak with you.
Step #7: Make It Part of Your Culture
It's not enough to "inoculate" employees during their new hire orientation. It's a great start but it's vital to frame your UnionProof Culture as part of who you are as a company. Encourage regular communication. Educate your HR Team on what it takes to support employees. Make sure your UnionProof Culture is woven into every step of your Employee Engagement Journey.
Creating this kind of involved, focused and positive environment can seem daunting. But with the right communication resources and a focus on taking excellent care of your team members, you can keep your company union-free. If you need resources to empower and educate your leadership, support your employees, and to help build a positive culture where unions simply aren't necessary, Projections would love to help! Contact our team today, and we can discuss your specific goals.
What are 5 union tactics? ›
- These Are The Steps Used To Organize. ...
- Step 1: The union will spread its message inside the workplace. ...
- Step 2: The union informs the NLRB of interest in unionizing. ...
- Step 3: The union runs an organizing drive. ...
- Step 4: Union representation election is held. ...
- Step 5: Collective bargaining between the employer and the union.
Step 6: Vote!
Once a majority of your coworkers have signed union support cards, they are submitted to the National Labor Relations Board to request a union election. This part can take several weeks as the Board decides on an election date and determines who at your workplace can vote.
The process to decertify a union starts with filing an RD petition at the regional National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) office or electronically on the NLRB website. If 30 percent of the bargaining-unit employees sign the petition, the NLRB may hold a hearing and authorize an election to decertify the union.What steps are commonly used by unions to organize a workplace? ›
- Step 1: Build an Organizing Committee. ...
- Step 2: Adopt An Issues Program. ...
- Step 3: Sign-Up Majority on Union Cards. ...
- Step 4: Win the Union Election. ...
- Step 5: Negotiate a Contract.
They divide bargaining subjects into three categories: mandatory, permissive, and illegal. Mandatory subjects, broadly speaking, relate to wages, hours, pensions, healthcare and working conditions. Employers cannot refuse to bargain over these subjects, and negotiations may continue to the point of mediation or strike.What are the three union models? ›
Theories of Union Development
The three prominent theories we will be looking at are the alienation theory, scarcity consciousness theory, and the Wheeler model.
Work hard to recruit and orient new union members, and help them start new chapters when necessary. Build strong relationships with your union members. You should strive to be an advocate, not a boss. Lastly, be a great communicator and leader—help your fellow members whenever possible and work to represent them well.How many union reps per employee? ›
The number of representatives is proportional to the number of employees (1 per 50 employees or part of), with a minimum of 2 up to a maximum of 25.Why do companies hate unions? ›
The most common reason companies say they oppose labor unions is because they want to have a direct relationship with their employees. It also costs them more money. Research shows that the growth of union jobs correlates to higher wages for the lowest-paid workers.How do you stop employees from forming a union? ›
- Reviewing policies.
- Benchmarking wages and benefits.
- Conducting employee management surveys.
- Training management on positive employee labor relations.
- Analyzing an organization's weaknesses.
- Implementing a risk/response protocol.
How can employees avoid unionization? ›
- Creating a Friendly Working Environment. ...
- Recognize Staff Efforts and Reward Extra Miles. ...
- Develop Transparent and Fair Dispute Resolution Practices. ...
- Maintain Open-Door Policy to Prevent a Union from Organizing. ...
- Involve The Staff in The Decision Making Process.
- Fair and consistent policies and practices.
- Open door management policies.
- Competitive pay and benefits.
- Employee trust and recognition.
Identify the tactics used by each side to support their negotiating positions: strikes, picketing, boycotting, and lockouts.What are the 4 major functions of labor unions? ›
How Unions Work. Unions are teams of individuals coming together to guarantee the things you care about like decent wages, affordable health care, job security, safe and respectful workplaces, and fair scheduling.What are the 5 mandatory subjects of bargaining? ›
Examples of subjects that are mandatory for bargaining include wages, benefits such as health care and pension, grievance and arbitration procedures, contract length, seniority, union security clauses, strikes and lock outs, management rights clauses, and other terms and conditions of employment.What are the four negotiation traps? ›
- Sales Negotiation Pitfall #1: Overvaluing Your Possessions. ...
- Sales Negotiation Pitfall #2: Focusing Too Much on Price. ...
- Sales Negotiation Pitfall #3: Compromising Your Ethics. ...
- Sales Negotiation Pitfall #4: Making Unappealing Offers.
Types of Trade Unions – Craft Unions, General Unions, Industrial Unions and Federations.What were the 3 primary goals of unions? ›
For those in the industrial sector, organized labor unions fought for better wages, reasonable hours and safer working conditions.What are the two types of unions? ›
There are two types of unions: the horizontal union, in which all members share a common skill, and the vertical union, composed of workers from across the same industry.What were the main tactics of unions? ›
The tactics available to the union include striking, picketing, and boycotting. When they go on strike, workers walk away from their jobs and refuse to return until the issue at hand has been resolved.
What tactics do trade unions use? ›
- negotiate agreements with employers on pay and conditions.
- discuss major changes to the workplace such as large scale redundancy.
- discuss members' concerns with employers.
- accompany members in disciplinary and grievance meetings.
- provide members with legal and financial advice.
33h. Northern Plans to End the War
- Fully blockade all Southern coasts. ...
- Control the Mississippi River. ...
- Capture Richmond. ...
- Shatter Southern civilian morale by capturing and destroying Atlanta, Savannah, and the heart of Southern secession, South Carolina.
- (i) Craft unions representing skilled workers from one occupation. ...
- (ii) General unions representing mainly unskilled workers from many occupations. ...
- (iii) Industrial unions representing mainly workers in one industry. ...