Thursday, September 1, 2022

Checking the pulse of the American worker on labor unions as we enter Labor Day Weekend

The following stats should be eye-opening for any business owner, CEO, or board of directors.
  • 71 percent of Americans "approve" of labor unions, the highest reported approval rating since 1965.
  • 70 percent of non-union employees say that they would consider joining a union, up 141% in just three years.
  • Unions win approximately 75 percent of all representation elections.

What does all of these stats mean? If a union organizer starts talking to your employees about unionizing, the odds are high that your business will end up unionized. 

It also means that because you may not know that your employees are being organized until after the union files its representation petition with the NLRB (at which point, based on the above statistics, it may be too late to do anything meaningful about it), your business needs to live and breathe union avoidance each and every day based on how you manage, pay, and otherwise treat your employees. 

So how do you stay union free? Here are four suggestions to help you COPE with the current wave of unionization.

     1/ Be fair and Consistent in how you apply your workplace policies and practices. You will never be able to create an issue-free workplace. But you can create a workplace in which employees understand the rules and how they will be applied in all cases. Unfair or inconsistent treatment breeds resentment and discontent, which in turn creates and environment ripe for unionization.

     2/ Maintain a legitimate and meaningful Open door management policies. Do your employees know how to complain and to whom? Does management listen to employees' concerns and take them seriously? If the answer to any of these questions is "no," you have a big problem that needs to be fixed. If employees don't think they have an impactful voice inside of your company, they will look outside of your company to find someone who will listen. Do you know who will provide that active listening? Union organizers. You don't want that. 

     3/ Provide your employees competitive Pay and benefits. Employees that are paid fairly and equitably are happy employees. Pay not be the number one reason employees organize (it's feeling respected and having a voice), but it is still an important reason. If you want to keep unions at pay, don't skimp on pay and benefits, and don't cheat your employees from anything to which they feel entitled.

     4/ Keep an Ear to the ground to proactively assist employees. Pay attention to employee satisfaction and, more importantly, dissatisfaction. You need to understand where you might be vulnerable to union organizing and work to fix it before your employees ask someone else to help fix it for them.

Here's my bottom line: 

Be an employer of choice for your employees. 

If they're not choosing you, they have two options — vote with their feet by finding a new job or vote for a union in an NLRB secret ballot election. If you're not an employer of choice for employees, you're an employer of opportunity for labor unions. Be the former, never the latter.