Executive Summaries » Carrots, Not Sticks, to Fend Off Unions

Carrots, Not Sticks, to Fend Off Unions

April 19, 2012

New federal labor rules concerning unionization alter the current regime by limiting pre-election hearings to determining whether there is a “question concerning representation.” That question arises when a union files an election petition with the NLRB, supported by evidence that a requisite number of employees support a union but the employer has refused to recognize the union. If the Board’s regional director concludes there is such a question, an election is called to resolve it.

The new rules reduce the opportunity for pre-election hearings and eliminate the recommendation that election be set no sooner than 25 days after the election is ordered. A Bloomberg analysis has found that unions win 58 percent of elections held 36 to 40 days after a request, while that rate rises to 87 percent when the vote takes place within 11 to 15 days.

While noting the new rules are not a positive development for employers, the author suggests they could be an occasion for management to make its case that there is little value in joining a union, before any unionization effort begins. “The right plan can boost employee morale for the long-term, increase productivity and avoid legal missteps if a petition is filed,” he says.

Among the policies he suggests: avoiding favoritism, paying fairly, maintaining good working conditions and competitive benefits, and expecting and rewarding high performance and efficiency. If a unionization effort occurs, he suggests consulting legal counsel and budgeting for a counter-campaign.

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