Do your employees know that they can push back during a union organizing campaign? Here’s a story of how it really is possible and how it can be done.
On Valentine’s Day, 2014, the UAW lost an historic representation election at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, Tennessee plant. UAW organizers thought the vote was a lock. After all, Volkswagen gave the union full access to employees. They even signed a neutrality agreement stating that they would not fight unionization.
But, after spending more than 2 years and an estimated $5 million on the campaign, the UAW lost the election. In the end, it was the employees who pushed back against the UAW, all by themselves.
EMPOWER YOUR WHOLE TEAM
The Volkswagen story was unique, in that management wasn’t doing anything to resist the union’s advance. This created an opportunity for the employees to fight back on their own. In a traditional campaign, however, management does push back. Companies educate their employees, counter union claims and give workers the information they need to make the best choice for themselves and their families. All too often, employee participation in the campaign, particularly in support of the company side, is mostly passive until election day – but it doesn’t have to be that way.
The fact is, during a union campaign, your employees will likely feel more motivated than ever to take action. They’ll feel the need to take control of their own futures. Unions have long depended on employee participation in their side of the campaign. Isn’t it time that companies did the same?
HELP EMPLOYEES HELP THEMSELVES
Prior to any union campaign, your managers should receive comprehensive labor relations training. Ideally this should be done through UnionProof’s Your Best Defense video, and our eLearning programs: Supervisors Can Keep You Union-Free and Catch Phrase. They can then pass that information on to their team, and share insights, better arming them against the union advance.
To take employee involvement one step further, engage your entire workforce with UnionProof’s Push Back video series, for managers and for employees. Push Back details exactly how supervisors can legally support employees in their efforts to remain union-free, and outlines the ways in which employees may defend themselves against unionization. These videos educate through both narrative and role-play content, modeling real-world communication techniques for both managers and employees.
DEFEND EMPLOYEE’S RIGHTS
Most union campaigns will begin with the organizer emphasizing an employee’s right to join a union. But your employees also have the right NOT to join a union. That message is clearly communicated in the Push Back training.
Your employees should know that if they don’t want to join a union, they have the legal right to:
- Speak their mind and work with others against the union.
- Organize their own union-free drive and hold their own meetings with co-workers.
- Tear up union authorization cards and leaflets.
- Circulate a petition to the union telling them that employees are not interested.
- Demonstrate against the union, create hand outs, wear buttons or t-shirts that express their feelings.
- Run ads in the local paper, on billboards, or even establish their own website to communicate the facts about the union.
- Approach organizations like the National Right To Work Foundation for free legal advice.
- To just say NO – to tell the union pushers to go away and leave them alone.
TEACH EMPLOYEES TO PUSH BACK
Why is it important to teach employees how to push back?
The employees at VW learned that they could defeat a union all on their own. But if that campaign happened today with “ambush election” rules in play, would they have enough time to fully understand their rights and push back?
With an average of 24 days in current election timelines, companies will have very little time to choose which labor topics on which they wish to educate managers or communicate with employees once a union campaign has begun. Adding the Push Back series to your arsenal before a union comes calling will provide your managers with the tools to assist employees in exercising their right NOT to join a union.