Union Vulnerability: External Factors Matter Too

union organizing imageSavvy business leaders are constantly assessing the internal and external risks of employee unionization, and risk is just another word for vulnerability. Many businesses limit the assessment of union risks to internal factors. In the meantime, however, external vulnerabilities are creating a perfect storm that makes union avoidance more difficult.

Dreaming of Unions?

Your employees don’t wake up one day and suddenly think “union.” They have a reason. Internal vulnerabilities, such as inconsistent hiring practices and weak management skills, are fodder for unions, but so are external vulnerabilities. External vulnerabilities appear to be more difficult to assess and out of management’s control. However, they’re often the ones triggering employee dreams of unionization as a solution to workplace issues.

External vulnerabilities come from a variety of sources. For example:

  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics issues the 2014 Union Membership News Release, reporting the median weekly earnings of nonunion members were $763, while those of union members were $970. This strengthens the union argument that nonunion workers would earn more if they unionized.
  • The business “down the road” just unionized, making it the third to do so in the area over the last two years.
  • The National Labor Relations Board decides in the Phillips 66 case that an employer “unlawfully interrogated an employee when a supervisor asked him, ‘What’s your opinion of this union thing?'” Employees immediately begin recalling memories of times the employer used the word “union” in one-on-one and group employee discussions.
  • The employer has operations in states that don’t have right-to-work laws.
  • The Service Employees International Union holds a high-profile rally to protest low wages for food workers and garner support for the “Pay Workers a Living Wage Act,” prompting employees to question pay rates below $15 per hour.

Labor Union NewsNot Always at Work

Your employees are not at work 24 hours a day. They are watching the news in the evenings, talking to friends who work at businesses that are unionizing, discussing unions with fellow pub patrons and joining union-affiliated groups.

To stay union-free, it’s important to minimize the impact of external union-related activities on your business by engaging your employees in frequent, open communication about external union activities to develop positive employee relations. This is why Union Proof keeps employers informed of all relevant labor activity and legal issues concerning unionization.

union vulnerability assessment

Union Proof also helps employers develop a legal, informed employee communication strategy that discusses external vulnerabilities. Your employees should understand that the pro-union emotions of friends and labor organizers don’t automatically make unionization a positive event in their workplace. How people assimilate and translate information to fit their personal world can make the difference as to whether unions ever get a foothold in your business.


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