In this video, HR.BLR.com's Managing Editor, Patricia Trainor, provides some legal do's and don'ts for employers aiming to keep their workplace union free, along with 8 specific steps they can take to keep employees happy and maintain a nonunionized workforce.
Hi, I'm Patricia Trainor, managing editor for HR.BLR.com. In our first video, I discussed recent pro-union activity in the National Labor Relations Board-or NLRB-the federal agency charged with enforcing and administering the National Labor Relations Act, or NLRA. For details on what NLRB activities have caught the attention of employers, click the link on your screen. Today, I am going to provide some legal do's and don'ts for employers, along with specific steps they can take to keep employees happy and maintain a unionized workforce.
Employers are often confused about what they can legally say to employees about unions. 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.
- 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?"
- Employers cannot promise benefits to employees if they vote against the union.
- And, employers may not spy on--or conduct surveillance of --employees' union activities.
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--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.
To maintain a nonunionized workforce, here are 8 tips for employers:
Number 1: start at the beginning. From the very beginning of the employment relationship, let your employees know your opinion on unions and why a union would not be right for your organization. Include a union position statement with orientation materials and in the employee handbook.
Number 2: Be pro-worker, not anti-union. If employees feel that they have a voice at work, they are unlikely to look to a union to provide them with one. Supervisors and managers should have an open-door policy so that employees feel that they can raise issues and concerns without fear of retaliation.
Number 3: Remember the Golden Rule. We all want to feel that our work is valued. Make sure that your company has competitive pay practices in place, and that you recognize employees for doing a good job.
Number 4: Run a safe, secure, and fair workplace . Survey your employees to learn how they feel about these issues, and respond to employee concerns.
Number 5: Communicate! Have an interactive communication system in place. Give your employees a voice in decisions that affect them.
Number 6: Explain unpopular decisions . Discuss with employees decisions that are unpopular. Explain why they are important to the company.
Number 7: Be responsible. Take responsibility for your decisions-the good and the bad.
Number 8: Have an effective grievance procedure in place. Make sure employees know how to file a complaint and raise issues of concern. If employees feel that their concerns are heard, they are less likely to turn to a union to be their voice with management.
It's important to point out that these steps should be taken before a union campaign begins. If an employer suddenly changes its policies and/or practices when a union campaign begins, it may be accused of an unfair labor practice.
Thank you all for joining us. For more information on the most recent NLRB activity-and on how to stay union free, visit HR.BLR.com.
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