Train managers on union-related dos and don'ts

As employers anticipate the new National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) poster they must display as of January 31, 2012, many are wondering how they can counter the pro-union message of this mandatory notification with their own union-free philosophy.

While there are many things you can do to achieve a balance, you'd be wise to start with your company's management.

Your supervisors and managers play a critical role in your business, contributing as much to a cohesive, satisfied workforce as they do to one that’s broken and disgruntled. Qualified, well-trained and supported supervisors go a long way toward keeping your company union-free. But you need to invest in their success.

Now, more than ever, you need to meet regularly with your supervisors to discuss any issues that may be brewing, as well as conduct periodic training workshops that address the latest trends in union organizing, red flags in the workplace and how to lawfully remain union-free. After all, “Union prevention is simply good management in action.”

An important part of any training program is outlining the dos and don’ts of unionizing efforts. Your managers and supervisors must be aware of protected and unprotected employee activity. According to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) website, they may not:

•    Prohibit employees from discussing a union during non-work time, or from distributing union literature during non-work time in non-work areas, such as parking lots or break rooms
•    Question employees about their union support or activities in a manner that discourages them from engaging in that activity
•    Fire, demote, transfer, reduce hours or take other adverse action against employees who join or support a union or act with co-workers for mutual aid and protection, or who refuse to engage in such activity
•    Threaten to close their workplace if employees form or join a union
•    Promise or grant promotions, pay raises, or other benefits to discourage or encourage union support
•    Prohibit employees from wearing union hats, buttons, t-shirts, and pins in the workplace except under special circumstances
•    Spy on or videotape peaceful union activities and gatherings

Ideally, your company will never become vulnerable to this level of union interest and activity in the first place. But ensuring that management knows the rules of the game can protect you from additional, costly consequences.

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