How to avoid unionization of a company

How to avoid unionization of a company

Transparency and communication play a pivotal role in order to prevent a union from organizing. Organizational heads need to take the lead in resolving employee issues as well as maintaining an open door policy. Employees need to feel that leadership is ‘pro-worker’ rather than anti-union.

Why Do Unions Organize?

Typically, unions come in as a third-party to enhance employees’ welfare. They mostly bargain for better employee checks, regulated working hours, a safe working environment, and fair treatment.

Employers can meet these needs freely without the need for union organizing. Shrewd HR managers cultivate a union-free culture where employees find amicable solutions within the internal systems of the organization.

Essentially, employees will unionize when the existing systems do not support their welfares satisfactorily. Developing a culture that promotes a healthy working environment, teamwork and a sense of belonging will go a long way in preventing unions from organizing. The idea of a union-free culture should be introduced to all staff in the initial stages as they get absorbed in the organization.

During induction processes, the HR team should take time and share the company’s stand on unions. A union statement can easily be shared alongside other training materials.

Organizations that value being union-free make continuous deliberate efforts to ensure they are not susceptible to unionization. They do this by inculcating a union-free culture among all workers. Certainly, there are several ways to enhance this. Let’s discuss the tips your workplace can implement to prevent a union from organizing.

1. Creating a Friendly Working Environment

Firstly, you can begin by curbing any forms of staff mistreatment. Employees need to feel secure at all times. You should give room for everyone in your workplace to air their concerns and grievances.

Additionally, encouraging open conversations between juniors and their supervisors is one way of creating a vibrant atmosphere for everyone in the workplace. Employees revere bosses who provide a clear roadmap of how things should be done.

Most importantly, you don’t want your employees to suffer in silence. Employees need to know they can share confidently and confidentially. Ultimately, a friendly workplace prevents unions from organizing, since teams can share issues at hand freely.

2. Recognize Staff Efforts and Reward Extra Miles

Innovation, hard work, teamwork, and company growth milestones should be marked by some sort of celebration. Each employee’s contribution to the bigger vision matters and should, therefore, be celebrated. You can appreciate your staff using cash, trips, promotion, and training.

One way of promoting transparency is by maintaining competitive pay practices. You should let everyone know the procedures and rationale used in rewarding individuals and groups. Additionally, let them know how you will decide on a standard payment.

Be proactive, survey the market, and establish what competition is offering and create salary brackets that meet or exceed market rates. Make this part of the discussion during interviews; let potential employees share their expected salaries.

3. Develop Transparent and Fair Dispute Resolution Practices

Be sure to solve any disputes early and amicably using standard company procedures. When attrition mushrooms, you need to be decisive and objective. Supervisors should be in a position to curb arising concerns before they blow up.

Furthermore, employees should also have the lee-way to seek further support if the immediate supervisor is perceived biased or for some reason is unable to resolve the issue at hand.

4. Maintain Open-Door Policy to Prevent a Union from Organizing

Cut arteries that feed union organizations by maintaining an ‘open door policy’. In the case where cluster supervisors are unavailable or incapacitated, allow rank-and-file employees to escalate the issues to higher offices.

To achieve this, you need to establish clear communication channels. If employees have the assurance that you can listen, and provide feedback, then they will have no desire to join the union. It is imperative that your employees feel comfortable to walk into any supervisor or manager’s door and have their concerns heard. Not only that, they should feel confident that any concerns will also be addressed — as required.

5. Involve The Staff in The Decision Making Process

Certainly, it is your responsibility as a manager to seal any loopholes that can trigger possible unionization. You can outmaneuver those who want to organize unions by being receptive and empathetic. Additionally, you can take views from the whole group, or have staff appoint representatives who can speak on their behalf. Supportive channels like suggestion boxes, whistleblowing emails, and open forums can also come in handy.

6. Provide Clear Policy Guidelines on Circulation of Company Information

Tighten all the loose ends in the workplace by disseminating information on policy and procedure changes before they are enacted. Consider training staff on policies and procedures so that they can embrace them.

Often times, staff will feel ambushed if new policies are applied without prior updates. Avoid changing policies during union campaigns as this can be seen as a manipulation of the labor practice.

7. Expose Employees to The Challenges Associated with Joining Unions

Unfortunately, most employees just sign up without even realizing the repercussions of joining a union. To avoid this, you should make it a priority to educate them on the charges involved and your organization’s position on unions.

Employees are more likely to be drawn to unions if they feel their grievances keep falling on deaf ears. If they have raised the same issues over and over and no attention is paid to them, they are likely to unionize and start organizing. To prevent possible unionization, you need to listen and attend to your employees’ grievances. Remember, communication plays a major role in order to prevent a union from organizing.

Working in a union environment has its pros as well as its cons. The purpose of a union is to have a group of organized workers come together and use their strength to have a voice in the decision-making of their workplace.

The unionized group can demand or negotiate changes in their wages, work hours, benefits, safety, job training and other issues that are concerns. There are employees and managers that have successfully worked in a unionized environment their entire career.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are workers and leaders that much prefer to not to have an entity exercise a level of control and dictation within the organization. For those that prefer to remain union-free, there are a number of tactics that can help alleviate the need for employees to bring in a union as the solution.

How to Keep a Non-Union Team Environment in Your Business

The following are eight strategies to keep an open-door, non-union team environment in your workplace:

  1. COMMUNICATE A NON-UNION ENVIRONMENT: An employer should take advantage of the opportunity to take steps toward maintaining a union-free status from the very beginning of their relationship with employees. This should be in place well before a union targets a workplace. When employees are hired, the employer should communicate clearly that there is no need for a union. Concerns and communications should be received under an open-door philosophy.
  2. PRO-EMPLOYEE: It is beneficial to show employees that the employer is pro-worker as opposed to being anti-union. If employees feel that they have a voice at work, they are unlikely to look to an outsider (i.e., union) to provide them with one.
  3. OPEN DOOR POLICY: Supervisors and managers should have an open-door policy in order that employees feel comfortable in raising issues or concerns without fear of retaliation.
  4. BE ACCOUNTABLE: The employer should take responsibility for all decisions on whether they are good results or if they turn out to not provide the desired results.
  5. FAIR WORKPLACE: It is recommended that employers provide a safe, secure, and fair workplace. It is also beneficial to hear and address the feedback of employees by understanding their concerns. Awards and safety training can reinforce the company’s commitment to maintaining a desirable workplace environment.
  6. COMMUNICATION: Set up a program or practice of interactive communication such as suggestion boxes, or a designated time to speak during company meetings. Giving employees an opportunity to be heard can greatly benefit the non-union environment.
  7. BE TRANSPARENT: Provide an explanation for unpopular decisions. A very basic response can reiterate the employers understanding that employees want to be involved.
  8. HEAR EMPLOYEE FEEDBACK AND CONCERNS: The employer should not wait until the threat or rumor of a union before it implements practices such as a grievance procedure or conducting employee opinion surveys. Consider having these practices in place as a means to leave the union less leverage and little room to identify legitimate concerns.

Employees generally embrace and join unions when they are not satisfied with how they are treated by management. In these cases, they come to believe a union can improve conditions in the workplace.

If your company is viewed as unfair or unresponsive to employees’ concerns, consider the recommendations listed as a means to prevent possible unionization. A clear and constructive line of communication between the management team and employees should be a high priority.

Most organizations feel the constraints of having a union organization are too great. It affects the cost to the organization and operation efficiency. Collective bargaining at times can put management at odds with its employees and cost more to produce products and services. Ideally, companies will provide safe working conditions, fair pay, and benefits so the employees do not feel they need to form a union. There are three main phases of unionization:

  1. Phase 1: Your organization is union free and there is little or no interest in unionizing.
  2. Phase 2: You learn that some employees are discussing unionization or you learn about specific attempts by the union to recruit employees.
  3. Phase 3: You receive a petition from the National Labor Relations Board filed by a union requesting a unionization vote.

Because of increased costs and operational efficiency, it is normally in a company’s best interest to avoid unionization. While in phase 1, it is important to review employee relations programs including pay, benefits, and other compensation. Ensure the compensation plans are fair so employees feel fairly treated and have no reason to seek the representation of a union.

Despite your best efforts, you could hear of unionization in your organization. The goal here is to prevent the union from gaining support to ask for a National Labor Relations Board election. Since only 30 percent of employees need to sign union cards for a vote to take place, this phase to avoid unionization is very important. During this time, HR professionals and managers should respond to the issues the employees have and also develop a specific strategy on how to handle the union vote, should it get that far.

In phase 3, familiarization with all the National Labor Relations Board rules around elections and communications is important. With this information, you can organize meetings to inform managers on these rules. At this time, you will likely want to draw up an antiunion campaign and communicate that to managers, but also make sure it does not violate laws. To this end, develop specific strategies to encourage employees to vote “no” for the union. Some of the arguments that might be used include talking with the employee and mentioning the following:

  1. Union dues are costly.
  2. Employees could be forced to go on strike.
  3. Employees and management may no longer be able to discuss matters informally and individually.
  4. Unionization can create more bureaucracy within the company.
  5. Individual issues may not be discussed.
  6. Many decisions within a union, such as vacation time, are based on seniority only.

With unionization in decline, it is likely you may never need to handle a new union in your organization. However, organizations such as Change to Win are in the process of trying to increase union membership. This organization has four affiliated unions, with a goal to strengthen the labor movement. Teamsters, United Food and Commercial Workers, United Farm Workers, and Service Employees International Union are all unions affiliated with this organization. 1 The next few years will be telling as to the fate of unions in today’s organizations.

FORTUNE 500 FOCUS

Perhaps no organization is better known for its antiunion stance than Walmart. Walmart has over 3,800 stores in the United States and over 4,800 internationally with $419 billion in sales. 2 Walmart employs more than 2 million associates worldwide. 3 The billions of dollars Walmart earns do not immunize the company to trouble. In 2005, the company’s vice president, Tom Coughlin, was forced to resign after admitting that between $100,000 and $500,000 was spent for undeclared purposes, but it was eventually found that the money was spent to keep the United Food and Commercial Workers union (UFCW) out of Walmart 4(he was found guilty and sentenced to two years of house arrest).
Other claims surrounding union busting are the closing of stores, such as the Walmart Tire and Lube Express in Gatineau, Quebec, 5 when discussions of unionization occurred. Other reports of union busting include the accusation that company policy requires store managers to report rumors of unionizing to corporate headquarters. Once the report is made, all labor decisions for that store are handled by the corporate offices instead of the store manager. According to labor unions in the United States, Walmart is willing to work with international labor unions but continues to fiercely oppose unionization in the United States. In one example, after butchers at a Jacksonville, Texas, Walmart voted to unionize, Walmart eliminated all US meat-cutting departments.

A group called OUR Walmart (Organization United for Respect), financed by the United Food and Commercial Workers* (UFCW) union, has stemmed from the accusations of union busting. Walmart spokesperson David Tovar says he sees the group as a Trojan horse assembled by labor organizations to lay the groundwork for full-fledged unionization and seek media attention to fulfill their agenda. While the organization’s activities may walk a fine line between legal and illegal union practices under the Taft-Hartley Act, this new group will certainly affect the future of unionization at Walmart in its US stores.

*Note: UFCW was part of the AFL-CIO until 2005 and now is an independent national union.

Union issues are suddenly on the front burner. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) which enforces the NLRA (National Labor Relations Act) has become particularly proactive in recent months, witness its very strong stand on social media rights of employees.

For the legal do’s and don’ts for employers, we turned to attorney Patricia Trainor, SPHR, managing editor for HR.BLR.com. Trainor also provided specific steps for keeping employees happy and maintaining a non-unionized workforce.

Employers are often confused about what they can legally say to employees about unions, says Trainor. Therefore, they often train supervisors and managers to say nothing. Many experts in union organizing believe that this is a mistake.

Under the NLRA and related case law there are only a few things employers cannot do in terms of communicating about unions with their employees. They can be summed up in the acronym TIPS.

  • T—Employers cannot Threaten employees with adverse action if they support a union. For example, they cannot threaten to close the facility if the union is elected.
  • Employers cannot Interrogate employees about their union activities. This means that employers cannot ask employees any questions about their union activity, such as “Did you get an authorization card?” Or, “Why are you interested in that union?”
  • P—Employers cannot Promise benefits to employees if they vote against the union.
  • S—Finally, employers may not Spy on—or conduct surveillance of—employees’ union activities.

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Beyond those limitations, it is absolutely legal for employers to discuss unions with employees regarding facts, experiences, and their opinions about unions. For example:

  • Employers can say that a union will not guarantee better wages.
  • Employers can explain that because a union is the exclusive representative of employees, issues such as a simple schedule shift, would need to be presented by and negotiated with the union—there’s no one-on-one with management.
  • Employers can explain that unions are costly—for example, they cost money in the form of dues
  • Employers can also let employees know what their experiences with unions have been. For example, they can tell employees when a local company was unionized, wages went down, not up.

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SAMPLE HANDOUT
Union Avoidance Don’t’s

  • Don’t speak in anger. Angry feelings of the moment may easily get you in trouble.
  • Don’t threaten workers with what you will do or what will happen if a union comes in. Do not say, for example:
    • The business will close
    • The business will move
    • Wages will go down
    • Overtime will be eliminated
    • There will be layoffs
  • Don’t tell union sympathizers that they will suffer in any way for their support.
  • Don’t terminate or discipline workers for engaging in union activities.
  • Don’t transfer workers on the basis of union affiliation or sympathies.
  • Don’t ask workers about union sympathizers or organizers.
  • Don’t ask workers to remove union screensavers or campaign buttons if you allow these things for other organizations.
  • Don’t treat pro-union or anti-union workers any differently.
  • Don’t ask workers how they are going to vote or how others may vote.
  • Don’t ask employees about union meetings or any matters related to unions. You can listen, but don’t ask for any details.
  • Don’t promise workers benefits, promotions, or anything else if they vote against the union.
  • Do not become involved—in any way—in the details of the union’s election or campaign or participate in any petition movement against the union.
  • Don’t give financial aid or any support to any unions.

Any one of these practices could be viewed as an “unfair labor practice,” which may in turn result in recognition of a union without an elections, as well as fines for your company.

In tomorrow’s Advisor, eight steps to keep your workplace union free, plus an introduction to a program specially designed for the smaller—or even one-person—HR department.

Avert a union, avoid a disaster.

Trust the Union Avoidance Consultants with a 95% Success Rate

Don’t ignore the early warning signs of union organizing: huddles that disperse when a manager approaches, increased use of union terminology, new worker alliances, increased complaining, and more. When addressed early, organizing is avoidable. After all, you can’t lose a union election that doesn’t happen.

How to avoid unionization of a company
The NLRB’s recently implemented quickie election rule has many repercussions for employers. The biggest being that the “quickie elections” leave little to no time for strong, effective anti union campaigns. This makes proceedings more difficult during an already trying time. It is extremely important to stay ahead of the tide in order protect your Union-Free Privilege®. Early intervention and maintaining a positive relationship with your employees from the beginning is key.

A union organizing campaign can be an incredibly divisive and destructive experience for your organization or business. When addressed early, organizing is avoidable. After all, you can’t lose a union election that doesn’t happen.

Your employees have a right to unionize, but you also have a right to educate them about potential dangers and negative effects of labor union representation. In the end, you’re not the only victim of a labor relations conflict. Your employees are, too. Often, it’s your efforts that can protect them from unwittingly putting everything on the line. We will work to guide you in the best ways to educate your employees about the dangers and problems of unionization and address underlying issues in your workplace.

Our team at Adams, Nash, Haskell & Sheridan will work with management to help your organization achieve the best possible outcome. We can provide a strategic response to labor union organization efforts, ensuring your work place stays union free and your business or organization is protected.

With 30 years of experience as union avoidance consultants, we know what it takes to avert a disaster for your business.

Are you feeling vulnerable?

Take our Union Vulnerability Assessment Quiz and find out if your company is susceptible to union organizing. Select a quiz below to take the Union Vulnerability Quiz that best matches your organizational structure.

What Steps Can You Take To Protect Your Business from Unionization?

Preserve your lines of communication

Open communication between employer, employees is crucial for maintaining a healthy working environment. You need to emphasize to employees from the beginning that a third party is never necessary when there is a problem. Share your views of unionization and communicate the repercussions of a union at the start of employment, so that there is no misunderstanding down the line.

Preserve your supervisor’s roles

Empower those in authority to deal with problems quickly and efficiently. Once again, communication is critical here, and your first line of defense is managers’ handling of employee concerns. If you let employees’ voices go unheard at the office level, you run the risk of problems festering and spiraling out of control. In these cases, they go to a third party for help, and you have a union on your hands.

Preserve your employees’ trust

Fewer problems arise when employees have faith and trust in their organizational superiors. Make the environment an overall great place to work, and employees will share in that excitement. Consider offering benefits like vacation time, compensation packages, and tuition reimbursement, and be sure to communicate the value of these offers.

It is also helpful for the entire company to nourish a sense of community and make everyone feel they’re on the same team. If employees have trust and a connection to the team, they are less likely to feel unhappy and seek out a third party.

Even with taking these steps, employees might still erroneously think a union is a viable solution to their issues. With 30 years of experience as union avoidance consultants, we know what it takes to avert a disaster for your business.

Avoid a 32% Increase in Your Labor Costs with ANHS’ Union Avoidance Training Services

When you start to notice the early warning signs of union organization, it’s too late. Employees see no way to address their issues beyond inviting outside help to disrupt your business. Often the easiest way to solve a problem is to avoid it entirely, and avoiding a union is no different.

Learn how to create an environment at your business where your employees will feel no need to seek outside representation with our union avoidance training.
How to avoid unionization of a company

MANAGEMENT EDUCATION

Equip your managers with the skills they need.

When managers are ineffective, organizations become vulnerable to union organizing. At ANHS, our union avoidance management consultants have developed a program to build up every level of management, from your supervisors to your executives. This includes our Leadership Effectiveness Analysis, which helps your managers identify and leverage their strengths.

Whether you choose one-on-one mentoring, group training, or The Union-Free Privilege® Academy, our union avoidance management consultants tailor seminars and workshops to meet the specific needs of your organization. The result is a more capable management team and a more effective workforce.

THE UNION-FREE PRIVILEGE®

Convince your employees to stay union-free.

At ANHS, we know unions. We know why employees turn to unions, how unions organize employees, and how to minimize the threat of union interference. We also know how to help you avoid unions all together: by maintaining a positive relationship with your employees. We call it The Union-Free Privilege®.

With centuries of combined labor relations experience, our consultants equip you with the knowledge you need. Benefit from our Employee Relations Assessment, or choose our exclusive VIEWPOINT® Survey, which features a database compiled over nearly four decades.

You can also participate in Management Education & Development, or draw together your whole organization with our Powersharing® programs. With ANHS, we make sure you stay union-free.

There are compelling arguments both for and against unions. What do you think?

How to avoid unionization of a company
Image: Flickr user DonkeyHotey.

I’ve long supported unions. I’ve even belonged to two — when I was a high school teacher and when I was a university administrative worker. But over the years, I’ve occasionally doubted my pro-union convictions. Permit me to share some of my thoughts and then to solicit yours. I suspect that many who read this article are much more informed about and experienced with unions than I am.

Why unions are good
In much of industrial America, workers long toiled under very unsafe conditions, earning extremely low pay and enjoying little to no legal protections. Unions brought about many major improvements for union workers that are now widespread among union and non-union jobs alike, such as paid vacations, weekends, sick leave, minimum wage, the eight-hour day, child labor laws, overtime pay, pensions, worker’s compensation, health insurance, holiday pay, parental leave, workplace safety regulations, lunch breaks, and much more. Unions have served workers well by improving working conditions and helping workers avoid being exploited by employers.

Even today, unions have a strong impact. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, union members in 2013 had median weekly earnings of $950 (that’s $49,400 per year), while non-union workers had median weekly earnings of only $750 ($39,000). That’s a 27% higher income for union workers. And unions have helped push through legislation in recent years, too — for example, they supported the Affordable Care Act.

How to avoid unionization of a company

Photo: Flickr user A. Michael Simms.

Why unions are problematic
As much as I’d rather not accept it, while unions have done a lot of good and have helped workers avoid exploitation, they can also help workers exploit employers sometimes. Perhaps it has been a gradual shift over time as unions slowly accumulated more and more power — though the percentage of American union workers dropped from a high of 35% in 1954 to a 97-year low of 11% in 2013.

Unions can have the power to impede a company’s ability to compete and thrive. A firm might be in desperate trouble, yet its unions may be unwilling to bend or compromise in order to help the company survive. Many employers find themselves left very inflexible when they have union contracts to abide by. Meanwhile, if a union negotiates high wages for workers at a company, it may lead the company to charge higher prices for its offerings, which can make it less competitive with rivals.

Some argue that unions have led to a decline in the value of merit. In many union settings, workers can’t advance much or at all on their merits, but rather they must generally progress within the limits defined by union contracts (where advances might be based on seniority, for example). Employers may have trouble weeding out ineffective employees if they belong to unions. In theory, at least, unionized workers might become so comfortable and protected that they lose the incentive to work hard for their employer. And outstanding employees might lose their get-up-and-go if there’s no incentive to excel — or worse, if they’re pressured by the union not to go the extra mile.

Still, it’s worth pointing out some of the many, many successful American companies that have unions, such as Southwest Airlines, United Parcel Service, Caterpillar, Walt Disney, Verizon, Harley-Davidson, Ford Motor Company, and Boeing.

How to avoid unionization of a company

Photo: Flickr user Caelie Frampton.

Is there a problem?
So there’s both good and bad associated with unions. I suspect that most businesses — and even many or most investors in said businesses — would prefer that the businesses be union-free. But that’s easier said than done. Many workers, meanwhile, are intent on keeping their unions, and they occasionally organize to form new ones. Just this year, football players at Northwestern University have been petitioning to form one. Meanwhile, domestic workers long denied by law the right to unionize have formed the National Domestic Workers Alliance and have been endorsed by existing unions. Workers at Wal-Mart, too, have been pursuing a union and have even conducted strikes.

With income inequality becoming a bigger problem in America and a more widely recognized one, there a case to be made that the American worker has more need than ever for a voice and for political and economic power.

Is ownership an answer?
One strategy for companies to prevent unions from taking too much control might be to ensure that their workers are as satisfied as possible. That sounds simple, but employee satisfaction can become mighty difficult to maintain as a company grows large. Another option is to convert employees into owners — via stock ownership or profit-sharing, for example. If workers have a real stake in a firm’s bottom line, they may be more sympathetic to management’s point of view and more eager to work extra hard to help the firm succeed.

Meanwhile, some are trying to think outside the box and imagine alternative labor union models, such as the “Labor 3.0” project.

Questions remain
This brief foray into union considerations has left me with plenty of questions. For example:

  • If unions are no longer so critical, should they disappear? And if so, how?
  • If unions are indeed still vital, how worried should we be that less than 12% of our workforce belongs to unions, and that this figure has been dropping?
  • If a company wants to avoid unionization, what is its best strategy?
  • How might unions and employers/managements better coexist without one side exploiting the other?
  • How should investors view companies that have unionized workers?

I know that this brief article only covers the tip of the iceberg, but it’s a fascinating iceberg. Share your perspective by leaving a comment below.

Private sector unionization is at its lowest level in nearly a century. In fact, being unionized today is weird . Why is your company still union in 2010? It’s usually one of three reasons:

1. Inertia: you’ve been unionized so long you and your employees have just not considered the alternative;

2. Poor Training: your supervisors don’t understand how to properly manage a unionized company and they unwittingly make union “protection” seem necessary to employees;

Classic guide by Francis “Tom” Coleman fully updated.

Any of these sound familiar? If it is inertia or poor training that can be fixed. If it is because it doesn’t hurt bad enough it may be too late . That’s how most unionized companies feel right before they get creamed by some “unforseeable” economic calamity that closes their doors forever (while their customers run into the arms of non-union competitors).

Why not stand out in a good way? Getting rid of a union is good for the bottom line and doesn’t look bad to the “top brass” either. What if you could get rid of your union legally and quickly. Would you want to learn more ?

Many of our clients have successfully done just that. Even those who remain unionized have learned to take charge of their bargaining relationship, improving productivity, profitability and employee relationships all at the same time. Sound impossible? We do it every day .

Isn’t it illegal to help employees to get rid of their union?

That is normally the first reaction I get when I talk to unionized companies about our system. Well, I’m a labor attorney and the first rule I teach all our consultants is that we don’t cheat. Nothing we teach our clients is illegal or even close to the line. We teach legal principles you can use today to help:

  • Evaluate why your employees continue to choose to remain unionized (yes, it is a choice) and whether getting rid of the union could happen in your company today ;
  • Map out your company’s employee relations environment and give you a clear game plan for taking charge of your labor situation;
  • Analyze your company’s bargaining situation and help you plan and execute an effective, goal-driven negotiation strategy;
  • Make sure your managers understand how to stop contract erosion, protect management rights and inform (but not encourage or help) employees about how they can legally decertify a union or deauthorize a union security clause.

Your company may have figured out a way to compete in spite of your union. You may even have what you consider to be a “great” contract. You may always get your way with union leadership. You may think you’ve “figured it out.” I’ve got bad news. You are kidding yourself.

I want you to think about a few quick facts. Unionized companies are less productive, less profitable, and slower to respond to market changes. That’s not my opinion, it is a provable fact. Unionized companies are closing every day because they can no longer effectively compete in a global market.

Is your company next? It doesn’t have to be. Whether you actually are successful at getting rid of your union, the steps you take now to take charge of your labor situation will dramatically improve the chances that your company will survive in our increasingly brutal economic environment.

The best news of all? You can find out whether this strategy fits your company without spending a dime. Discover your gaps during our 30-minute “De-Unionization” Strategy Audit (it’s FREE ).

Your De-Unionization Strategy Audit is conducted with myself and Tom Coleman, author of Becoming Union Free. This Strategy Audit is conducted over the phone with you and your key staff. Here is what we accomplish during this fast-paced, no-nonsense session:

  • Are Your Employees Ready to Get Rid of the Union? Use our simple test to find out . We explain how to conduct an Opportunity Assessment to evaluate whether a work group is ready and how you can legally figure out exactly who is most likely to “carry the water” (without ever asking or approaching them). Plus we give you a script for talking to employees without fear of legal landmines.
  • Dealing with “Toxic” Managers: One or two can tank your plan and give back everything you achieve in bargaining. But you can quickly and easily correct problems – if you avoid this critical misstep . We walk you through our three-step process (which takes literally about six minutes) and show you exactly how to carry this out. Plus…
  • New Rules for Bargaining: We’ve helped many clients negotiate tremendous contracts (and sometimes even get rid of the union without a decertification vote) with three specific strategies you can easily implement .

The 30-Minute “De-Unionization” Strategy Audit is not a sales presentation; it consists of the best intelligence we can supply in a thirty-minute time span, honed from nearly 60 years of combined experience from companies who found out the becoming union-free wasn’t as difficult as it once seemed.

Why are we doing these valuable strategy sessions for free?

Tom – an ex-military officer – just retired from law practice and asked if I would help him with one last mission. We believe our manufacturing base (and even the service sector) remain at great economic risk. We feel that every single company we can help free from a union is a company we have saved . It is our personal mission to save as many as we can.

But these calls are limited (after all, I’m not retired and it’s hard to save for the college fund doing free calls all day). Tom and I block out just two days each month for the calls. We can occasionally work in others if those two days aren’t convenient – ask Tammy when you call.

There is no charge for this call, but the call must be strictly limited to 30 minutes . As I’m sure you can imagine, there is quite a demand for these slots and they fill up quick.

To secure a time for this consultation, please call Tammy Swinford at 800-888-9115 and she will advise you regarding available time slots. She will also provide you with a pre-consultation questionnaire (or you can fax back the one on the back of this page) that will prepare us for the call.

With the basic information from this call you will be armed with tools to help take charge of your bargaining situation and perhaps rid your company of the union forever. In today’s tough economic environment, that may even mean the difference between the life or death of your company. Please call Tammy now to make your appointment.

There are compelling arguments both for and against unions. What do you think?

How to avoid unionization of a company
Image: Flickr user DonkeyHotey.

I’ve long supported unions. I’ve even belonged to two — when I was a high school teacher and when I was a university administrative worker. But over the years, I’ve occasionally doubted my pro-union convictions. Permit me to share some of my thoughts and then to solicit yours. I suspect that many who read this article are much more informed about and experienced with unions than I am.

Why unions are good
In much of industrial America, workers long toiled under very unsafe conditions, earning extremely low pay and enjoying little to no legal protections. Unions brought about many major improvements for union workers that are now widespread among union and non-union jobs alike, such as paid vacations, weekends, sick leave, minimum wage, the eight-hour day, child labor laws, overtime pay, pensions, worker’s compensation, health insurance, holiday pay, parental leave, workplace safety regulations, lunch breaks, and much more. Unions have served workers well by improving working conditions and helping workers avoid being exploited by employers.

Even today, unions have a strong impact. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, union members in 2013 had median weekly earnings of $950 (that’s $49,400 per year), while non-union workers had median weekly earnings of only $750 ($39,000). That’s a 27% higher income for union workers. And unions have helped push through legislation in recent years, too — for example, they supported the Affordable Care Act.

How to avoid unionization of a company

Photo: Flickr user A. Michael Simms.

Why unions are problematic
As much as I’d rather not accept it, while unions have done a lot of good and have helped workers avoid exploitation, they can also help workers exploit employers sometimes. Perhaps it has been a gradual shift over time as unions slowly accumulated more and more power — though the percentage of American union workers dropped from a high of 35% in 1954 to a 97-year low of 11% in 2013.

Unions can have the power to impede a company’s ability to compete and thrive. A firm might be in desperate trouble, yet its unions may be unwilling to bend or compromise in order to help the company survive. Many employers find themselves left very inflexible when they have union contracts to abide by. Meanwhile, if a union negotiates high wages for workers at a company, it may lead the company to charge higher prices for its offerings, which can make it less competitive with rivals.

Some argue that unions have led to a decline in the value of merit. In many union settings, workers can’t advance much or at all on their merits, but rather they must generally progress within the limits defined by union contracts (where advances might be based on seniority, for example). Employers may have trouble weeding out ineffective employees if they belong to unions. In theory, at least, unionized workers might become so comfortable and protected that they lose the incentive to work hard for their employer. And outstanding employees might lose their get-up-and-go if there’s no incentive to excel — or worse, if they’re pressured by the union not to go the extra mile.

Still, it’s worth pointing out some of the many, many successful American companies that have unions, such as Southwest Airlines, United Parcel Service, Caterpillar, Walt Disney, Verizon, Harley-Davidson, Ford Motor Company, and Boeing.

How to avoid unionization of a company

Photo: Flickr user Caelie Frampton.

Is there a problem?
So there’s both good and bad associated with unions. I suspect that most businesses — and even many or most investors in said businesses — would prefer that the businesses be union-free. But that’s easier said than done. Many workers, meanwhile, are intent on keeping their unions, and they occasionally organize to form new ones. Just this year, football players at Northwestern University have been petitioning to form one. Meanwhile, domestic workers long denied by law the right to unionize have formed the National Domestic Workers Alliance and have been endorsed by existing unions. Workers at Wal-Mart, too, have been pursuing a union and have even conducted strikes.

With income inequality becoming a bigger problem in America and a more widely recognized one, there a case to be made that the American worker has more need than ever for a voice and for political and economic power.

Is ownership an answer?
One strategy for companies to prevent unions from taking too much control might be to ensure that their workers are as satisfied as possible. That sounds simple, but employee satisfaction can become mighty difficult to maintain as a company grows large. Another option is to convert employees into owners — via stock ownership or profit-sharing, for example. If workers have a real stake in a firm’s bottom line, they may be more sympathetic to management’s point of view and more eager to work extra hard to help the firm succeed.

Meanwhile, some are trying to think outside the box and imagine alternative labor union models, such as the “Labor 3.0” project.

Questions remain
This brief foray into union considerations has left me with plenty of questions. For example:

  • If unions are no longer so critical, should they disappear? And if so, how?
  • If unions are indeed still vital, how worried should we be that less than 12% of our workforce belongs to unions, and that this figure has been dropping?
  • If a company wants to avoid unionization, what is its best strategy?
  • How might unions and employers/managements better coexist without one side exploiting the other?
  • How should investors view companies that have unionized workers?

I know that this brief article only covers the tip of the iceberg, but it’s a fascinating iceberg. Share your perspective by leaving a comment below.