Will Workers Unionize During the Recession?

The Employee Free Choice Act was introduced in the House and Senate on March 10. The top priority of organized labor, the bill would force Companies to recognize a union when a majority of Employees sign authorization cards. Under current law, Employers can require a secret-ballot election supervised by the National Labor Relations Board. In addition to changing the union election process, the bill would refer a first contract to binding arbitration if an agreement isn’t reached within 120 days of bargaining. The resulting contract would be binding for two years. The bill will go through the normal legislative process and some version of the bill is expected to be voted on by Labor Day.

While Employers may think that it doesn’t matter whether this bill becomes law because their Employees would never join a union, they should consider this:

Some studies shows that at least 60% of a Company’s Employees would join a union if they believed they were able to do so without Employer retaliation. Labor Expert Matt Perovic says that, regardless of what Employers think, Employees don’t join a union because of wages and benefits, but rather because of the following reasons:

  • Lack of a good relationship with their direct Supervisor.
  • Employees believe, as individuals, they have little or no influence with their Employer.
  • Their Employer arbitrarily changes policies and conditions of work whenever management feels like it.
  • Their Employer does not provide an internal Grievance and Arbitration procedure that protects Employee rights.
  • Their Supervisor engages in favoritism.
  • Their Supervisor does not treat Employees with respect and fairness.

The Bottom Line: Matt says that regardless of whether the Employee Free Choice Act becomes law, the current economy downturn is creating opportunities for unions to organize Employees. While Employees will not jeopardize their jobs at the moment, once the economic climate improves, Employees will seek to recoup their losses as quickly as possible and may seek out a union to help them do that – especially if they were mistreated by management during the economic downturn. To avoid the threat of unionization in the future, Matt recommends that Employers make sure the lines of communication remain open and that Front Line Leaders are treating Employees properly.

Questions: If the Employees in your department or company were offered an opportunity to join a union, without the inherent threat of retaliation for doing so, would a majority of those Employees join the union? If the answer is "yes" what actions need to be taken to stop that from happening?

Contact me at paulglover@trainingeverydayleaders.com for get more information about EFCA from Labor Expert Matt Perovic.

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