Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Union avoidance vs. union busting

"A company that opposes a union organizing and presents both sides of this complex issue is 'union busting.'" This is what one commenter wrote in response to my recent post about union organizing at Creature Comforts Brewing Co.

I could not disagree more. 

There is vast, substantive, and significant difference between union avoidance and union busting.

Union avoidance should take place 24/7/365. It's smart business in how you operate and treat your employees. Your goal is to be an employer of choice for your employees and not an employer of opportunity for a labor union. 

Union avoidance is proactive. It's—
  • Paying competitive wages and providing competitive benefits;
  • Having positive communication between management and employees; 
  • Management's openness to listen to employees and address their concerns;
  • Prioritizing respect in the workplace; and 
  • Fostering a workplace environment in which employees feel like they have a seat at the table.

During an organizing campaign, union avoidance is communicating to employees, within the bounds of the law and through facts, opinions, and examples, why you believe a labor union is not the correct solution for your business. If, however, you have not incorporated union avoidance into your culture by doing all of the things I've outlined above before the union shows up, that message is likely to go unheard.

Union busting, on the other hand, is 100% reactive and 100% illegal. It's firing the union organizers. It's promising pay raises or better benefits if the union loses. It's threatening to shut down if the union wins. It's also proof of concept for today's labor union. "See how your employer fires anyone who they think supports us. This is precisely why you need a union in the first place."

Please let's not confuse or conflate these two very different concepts.