Unionization is generally not desirable for merit shop contractors. Here’s what you can do to prevent workers from unionizing in your shop. Often unionization may sound like a good financial idea to workers on the surface, but giving up your right and control to call the shots at the company you built from the ground up has its risks.
“Let’s face it we have seen numerous news stories about the mismanagement of pensions and embezzlement of dues,” said ABC Membership Director John Manor. “The history of unions in America is fraught with conflicts between workers and employers with passionate arguments on both sides of the issue. Many times, employees are lured with higher wages and benefits, but fail to realize that work is frequently scattered from month to month and your annual pay is often much less than the full-time job you left.”
The process for unionization requires 30% of workers to sign a union card. This is followed by waiting period of several months, during which federal officials conduct a secret ballot election for unionization. Unions argue that employers unfairly use the waiting period to dissuade workers from unionizing. But employers know that if it comes to a vote, they have already lost the battle.
“The best way to avoid unionization is to take preventative measures that make it difficult for unions to gain a foothold in your workforce. In a union shop, workers could end up paying union fees from the same wages they earn now, so there is an incentive for both workers and employers to work toward the creation of a fair workplace without union interference.”
“At ABC, we believe that merit shop companies have earned the right and have taken all the risks with their companies to have a level playing field to compete on,” said Manor. “Our members don’t want set asides or special treatment; they just want the quality of their work and reputation to stand on its own, unfretted by union entanglements.”
The best way to avoid unionization is to take preventative measures that make it difficult for unions to gain a foothold in your workforce. In a union shop, workers could end up paying union fees from the same wages they earn now, so there is an incentive for both workers and employers to work toward the creation of a fair workplace without union interference. Employers can take proactive steps, so employees don’t feel the need for union representation. Consider these steps to keep your company union-free:
- Take a hard look at employee satisfaction levels. Maintain open lines of communication. Dissatisfied employees and festering workplace issues are fertile ground for union organizers.
- Conduct an objective workplace audit, focusing on employees’ views of management’s responsiveness, compensation levels, and provisions for workplace health and safety. Listening and responding fairly to employee feedback can help ensure that a union doesn’t find a welcome reception.
- Review anti-union policies. Certain employer policies can help prevent unionization. To be effective, however, policies must be in place before there is any organizing activity. Policies to consider or review include those covering visitors at work, solicitation of fellow employees (orally or via e-mail), distribution of literature, and employee dispute and problem-solving options.
- Train supervisors on unions and labor law. Cover the nature of unionization and labor law limitations on management conduct. Training can help managers avoid making mistakes that could damage your union-free status.