On April 14. 2015 ALL businesses may find themselves in a defensive situation with their employees on one side and management on the other. The NLRB has been pushing for a “quicker” unionization in the workplace procedure and has the backing of the President.
Presently if employees wish to form a Union then there is a process of checks and balances that were set in place to prevent intimidation and coercion. I liken it to a petition drive. If someone comes to my door and asks me to sign a petition, that does not mean that I will ultimately vote for that person or law. It only means that I agree that it has a right to be placed on a ballot and be voted on. At the time I sign the petition I am doing it openly and the person with the petition as well as many others will see my signature. However, at the time of my actually voting on the subject- no one will be seeing my decision.
So here is the comparison of the process today and the process on April 14 where your employees may initiate a Union to represent them. Today: If an employee signs a card stating he/she wishes to be represented by a union that card is not a binding vote- it is a petition. Everyone knows if the person signed the card or did not sign the card. If a percentage of employees sign cards then there is a step by step process that affords rights to both sides prior to a ballot election where each vote is secret. On April 14 the signing of that card is considered a vote and is not a secret ballot. A strong, albeit small, group of individuals can control the signing of these cards. Once the cards are signed the company is expected to welcome the Union immediately. The process does allow for a ‘quick’ election procedure, but the goal is for the company to accept the decision without a vote.
The NLRB terms today’s practice as an “Unfair Labor Practice Process”. http://www.nlrb.gov/resources/nlrb-process/unfair-labor-practice-process-chart . They note the new process as the “representation Process”. http://www.nlrb.gov/resources/nlrb-process . The Senate states that it will pass an Ambush Resolution, but it is expected that the President will veto any resolution and the Senate does not have strong enough support to override a veto.
So what should companies do? What you should have done from the very beginning of being an employer: Communication, respect and having the same goals for employees as well as management. When the CEO makes so very much more than the employee even when the CEO does a poor job, you are going to have discontent. When more and more is expected of an employee without any additional consideration or let up in sight, you are going to have discontent. Since the recession when everyone joined the bandwagon of laying off vast numbers of employees, a small group of employees have been expected to pick up the slack. In most cases, there was no slack to begin with and the remaining employees have been stressed to the limit.
The MOST important commodity that any organization has is its employees. They are the immediate face and voice of the company. The product they produce represents the company and promotes the company’s Good Will. Even the most dedicated employee will eventually show a negative attitude and poor work practices if taken advantage of and given no recognition over a period of time.
For additional information: http://www.shrm.org/legalissues/federalresources/pages/quickie-union-election-rule.aspx ; http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2015/03/19/congress-moves-to-kill-union-election-rules-setting-up-new-obama-veto/