First, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) proposed a mandatory workplace posting informing employees of their rights to unionize (which we're closely monitoring). Now, the agency would like to make it even easier for employees to unionize, thanks to a proposal that would change some of the organization rules.
In a nutshell, the NLRB's "Notice of Proposed Rulemaking" would give employers and management less time to build a case against organizing, require employers to make employee information (like personal phone numbers and email addresses) available to union officials, and delay the resolution of disputes over which employees can vote in the secret ballot elections.
A press release by the NLRB explains that, "The proposed amendments are intended to reduce unnecessary litigation, streamline pre- and post-election procedures, and facilitate the use of electronic communications and document filing."
What would happen if your employees formed a union? More important, do you have the knowledge you need to help keep unions out of your workplace?
With greater awareness and appropriate action, you can strengthen your anti-unionization position without undermining the rights of your employees. The following strategies can help reinforce your position as a fair employer and eliminate the common causes for employee unionization:
Tip #1: Encourage open communication
Open and clear lines of communication between management and employees are vital. To support an open-door communication policy, you should use meetings, workshops and suggestion boxes to learn about employees’ needs; make appropriate business information available to employees; develop a grievance process to address problems promptly; and communicate your open-door policy via emails, distributed materials and workplace postings.
Tip #2: Conduct an employee attitude survey
Not all employees will be forthright in sharing their frustrations with management. Conducting an employee attitude survey is an ideal way to capture employee opinions in a safe and non-threatening manner. Break the survey into sections (such as “working conditions” and “company culture”), set up the survey in a format you can easily administer, compile the results quickly and discuss the results among company management.
Tip #3: Train and support your supervisory personnel
Qualified, well-trained supervisors and managers go a long way toward keeping a company union-free. Invest in their success by meeting regularly to discuss any issues that may be brewing, as well as conducting periodic training workshops that address the latest trends in union organizing and the dos and don’ts of unionizing efforts.
Tip #4: Review company policy regarding solicitation, distribution and access
You may prohibit employee solicitation and distribution of pro-union literature during working time and in work areas. In most cases, you can also prohibit non-employee union representatives from conducting business on company property. The key to avoiding any legal complications regarding these rules is to put them in writing via company policy – and prior to the onset of a union organizing campaign.
Tip #5: Offer competitive wages and benefits
Non-competitive wages and meager benefits are some of the biggest sources of employee discontent and in turn, contributors to union-organizing activity. After considering your industry and geographic location, you should conduct periodic wage and benefit surveys to make sure you’re in line with recognized standards. Consider cost-of-living adjustments, medical care benefits, paid time off, and profit-sharing and employee stock options.
Tip #6: Resolve employee disputes promptly
In addition to giving employees multiple channels for voicing their frustrations, you need to develop clear-cut procedures for resolving their concerns. This may involve a peer review group that meets on a regular basis, appointing an intermediary to investigate more serious complaints and conducting regular training on conflict management principles.