Labor Relations Update – Union Organizing On The Rise

July 29, 2015

As we reported back in April of this year, the anti-business, union-backed National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) enacted the ambush election rule in order to coerce employees to unionize in a short window of time, springing elections on unsuspecting employers in a little over a week. Previously, the window from the notice of petition to the actual election was on average, 38 days. Under the new ruling, the window is as few as 11 days. This ambush election rule shortening the time an employer has from receiving a petition to the actual election date has greatly increased not only petitions, but also the success of unions.

This ambush election rule is critical for unions in that NLRB election statistics show that from 2004-2014 unions won 86% of elections that took place under 21 days, compared to only 60% that took place over a longer timeframe (36-42 days). Obviously, the shorter the election window, the greater likelihood of unionization. It’s no wonder the union-driven NLRB wants to speed up the process; since union membership has been steadily sliding into decline.

Following the enactment of this new ambush election rule in April, the first month’s statistics are in and as the business community warned, elections to unionize workplaces have increased at an alarming rate. From April 14th to May 14th, there was a 32% increase in the number of petitions filed. This trend will continue, with the shortened rule encouraging unions to file petitions even when they think their chances of success are small. These shortened windows, as little as 11 days, obviously impact the employer’s ability to hire a consultant like SESCO and educate their workers on the unintended consequences of unionization and employees get confused when faced with coercion and misinformation from highly-organized union campaigns.

Additionally, the NLRB’s new policy violates workers basic right to privacy. The new rule gives blanket access to union bosses of everything from an employee’s personal contact information, home address, job classification, shift schedules and work locations. Union bosses can now ramp up union campaigns on the door steps of your employees’ homes.

Today’s union organizing tactics are extremely contemporary and successful. No longer will an employer be presented with traditional picketing or being placed on notice by the union as in the past. Union organizing is very stealth and normally goes on a long time undercover. When an employer is alerted to the activity or a petition, it many times is too late. The employer then has very little time, typically less than two (2) weeks, to educate employees on why they should not join a union.

With the new ambush election rule and union organizing tactics, employers must change and adapt their employee relations policies and practices to be successful in remaining union free. It behooves organizations to:

• Educate managers on the basic do’s and don’ts of union activity as well as create an awareness.

• Provide managers with the tools necessary to successfully manage employees to include contemporary, up-to-date employee handbook; leadership training and development; and labor law compliance. Unions are typically not successful where employees’ needs and wants are met internally by their management team.

• Conduct employee satisfaction surveys annually – not only are surveys very effective tools in terms of employee morale and motivation (bottom line productivity), surveys will also identify any areas of vulnerability that need to be addressed by the employer thus removing the need for unionization.

SESCO Management Consultants has been assisting employers for 70 years in remaining union free. We are human resource and employee relations specialists and are available should you have any questions or concerns or wish to pursue proactive strategies. Contact us at 423-764-4127 or bill@sescomgt.com.