With the onset of COVID-19, followed by a strong social justice movement, union organizing activity is on the rise. Unions are seeing increased traffic from employees to their website so that they can learn how to organize. Employment law attorneys who represent employees are spending pro bono time with employees informing them of their rights under the law. Employers – particularly those who have essential workers – are reporting union organizing attempts.
Employers should know the signs of this activity. Examples of such signs include, but are not limited to, employees openly speaking negatively about wages and terms and conditions of employment, group complaints versus individual employee complaints, sudden changes in employee attitudes and reluctance to deal openly with management, changes in how, when, and where employees gather together, and who they are meeting. This may be difficult to notice in the era of social distancing and zoom. Be aware that if you notice changes, there are rules to follow. You cannot:
- Threaten – make life more difficult or discharge employees who want a union
- Interrogate – ask employees questions about their intentions to join a union or why they want a union
- Promise – assure employees that if they don’t join a union, they will benefit
- Spy – Watch or listen to employees to learn what they are doing to organize.
One of the main reasons employees turn to unions is to feel heard and understood when they have complaints. Supervisors and managers can be the reason employees turn to a union, or they can help an employer in staying union-free. This is why management training is so important for those in these roles to understand how to respond to and properly motivate employees. One of the reasons Employers Council developed management training programs was to assure organizations of superior behavior amongst those who supervise others.
If an employer recognizes that there is a union organizing campaign, the proper response is critical. Employers Council has been assisting employers in this area for over 80 years. We provide real-time union avoidance training to your organization, not only to understand what to do and not do in a union organizing campaign but also to discuss supervisor communication skills and techniques, along with a discussion of effective programs to preserve union-free status. The best time for your organization to receive union avoidance training is before your employees start looking to unionize. This is when you have the most options available to preserve your union-free status. Our labor relations attorneys are here to help in this complicated and difficult time.