You’ve built a successful business. Over the years, you’ve overseen and set the wages, benefits, and all other terms and conditions of employment in your operation. You are in total control! Until that fateful day when you are notified “out of the blue” that your employees are so dissatisfied and disgruntled that they are demanding to join a union and strip you of all the control you’ve enjoyed. How did this happen? Why didn’t you see it coming? Could you have done anything to prevent it? Historically, union organizing efforts are most successful when employers send a message that they don’t care about their employees. The primary reason for employees to seek out unions is because of an employer’s bad practices.
Now, as an employer you are faced with an active union organizing drive. If you are not careful, you may end up losing more than a union election… there may be charges of unfair labor practices as well. Here are some things you can and cannot say/do during a union organizing campaign:
What you CAN say/do:
- Tell your employees that the Company prefers to remain non-union and that you would like them to vote “NO”;
- Tell your employees that they are free to support the union or not, as they see fit, but you hope they vote against it;
- Emphasize that you are not asking employees about their union views or activities, but you need and want their support;
- Answer employees’ questions about Company policies and discuss the campaign issues, providing you don’t threaten reprisals, promise benefits or interrogate them about their union views;
- Inform them that if they become union members they will have to pay monthly dues to the union, as well as possible fees, fines and assessments;
- Refer to the Union’s financial reports and tell employees that if they become union members, much of their dues will be going to pay the salaries and expense accounts of union officials;
- Say that the Company will recognize the union and bargain in good faith if there is a valid NLRB certification that requires It to do so, but that any improvements in wages and benefits are “negotiable” and not automatic as the union might suggest;
- Explain to the employees that good faith negotiations can lead to higher wages and benefits, the same wages and benefits, or lower wages and benefits than they now receive. No one can predict what happens in negotiations.
- Tell the employees that it would do everything it could to avoid a strike, but if the union called an economic strike, the Company would have the legal right to hire permanent replacements for such strikers, with strikers being placed on a preferential hiring list subject to recall if openings occur.
- Remind employees that unions can fine members who cross union picket lines, that the union can sue in court to collect the fines and that judgments for union fines are enforceable through wage garnishment and attachment;
- Remind employees that disputes must go through a “grievance process” and that a union can reject an employee grievance at any time, leaving the employee no resolution as opposed to the right to take a dispute up through the ranks of management.
- Request that union officials leave the Company property (assuming there is a “no-access” policy that is applied to ALL non-employee solicitors). Call the police and have them removed if necessary.
- Explain to employees the benefits they currently enjoy. Where these benefits compare favorably with the terms of a union contract, be sure to emphasize that;
- Listen empathetically to employee problems and grievances, but explain to employees that the Company is legally prevented from making promises of new benefits during a union campaign;
- Refute any untruths in union propaganda;
- Inform employees that during the 12 months following certification of an NLRB election that is won by the union, the employees CAN NOT vote the union out in another NLRB election and if a contract is signed during this period, it acts as a bar to decertification for up to 3 more years!
Things you CAN NOT say/do:
- Threaten employees in ANY WAY to deter them from union activity;
- Suddenly crack down on tardiness or absenteeism, institute tougher work rules or otherwise punish employees for union activity;
- Question employees about their union views, activities or sympathies;
- Ask an employee if they have or intend to sign a union “authorization card” or have attended a union meeting, whether other employees have, or why anyone has done so;
- Send “spies” into a union meeting to report back to management;
- Question employees about their causes for dissatisfaction AND expressly or impliedly promise to make corrections;
- Sponsor or circulate an anti-union petition among the employees;
- Interview employees one at a time or in small groups concerning their union views or opinions are;
- Enforce company rules strictly against union supporters while being lenient toward pro-company employees;
- Hold election campaign meetings within 24 hours of any scheduled election;
- Prohibit employees from passing out union literature in non working areas on their own non work free time;
- Distribute anti-union buttons for employees to wear;
- Promise or give employees special favors for influencing other employees against the union;
- Carry out necessary layoffs in such a manner as to deliberately weed out union supporters.
With over 34 years’ experience in advising employers and employees on workplace issues, let Boznos Law work with you to ensure you are ready to meet the challenges posed by union organizing efforts. Call Bill Boznos today at (630) 375-1958 or contact us at www.boznoslawoffice.com/contact-us through our website at www.boznoslawoffice.com