On April 14, 2015, the National Labor Relations Board “Ambush Election Rule” became effective, dramatically shortening the time between the filing of a union certification petition and the election. National Law Review reports that between 2010 and 2015, the median time from representation petition to election was 38 days. By February 2016, Law 360 reported that timeframe was reduced to just 24 days.
Is your company prepared for a union representation election that could take roughly 3 weeks from start to finish? Check your calendar and look at the date 24 days out. If you were to receive a petition today, you could be unionized and on your way to contract negotiations just that quickly.
If you aren’t ready to look the cost of unionization squarely in the eye, now is the time to prepare. The good news is that the best tool available today can be prepped in advance. It’s a resource that will help you communicate openly and honestly, educating your employees on why the company believes a union-free environment is in everyone’s best interest.
All Union Elections Are Ambush Elections
All union elections today are what we would have called “ambush” elections just a few years ago. Union membership totals may still be down, but expedited elections are energizing union organizers. In September 2016, the NLRB reported 127 elections nation-wide, with unions winning 76 percent of them. Now, that’s nothing new – union win rates were high even prior to the ambush election rules taking effect. So should we take from this that unions only spend money on pursing employee groups they’re fairly certain will unionize? Regardless of the chicken-and-egg questions inherent in that data, preparing in advance for a possible union election has never been more important. The ideal way to address organizing online and via social media is to respond where your employees are already hanging out… the key to staying union free today is the “dark” website.
A dark website is a communication tool designed with a union campaign in mind. There are as many ways to use these sites as their are unique companies using them, but largely it’s a website built for the sole purpose of educating employees on the facts about unions in general, and more specifically, about the union targeting them personally. It can be made live immediately upon completion in order to raise employee awareness of the company philosophy and the facts of unionization. Another strategy is to have a website that’s 95 percent developed but not activated until union organizing begins, it can be kept in a “dark” state, and when a campaign begins or a petition is filed, the website goes live to specifically respond to a union’s exaggeration of company issues and overblown promises.
Presenting a Unique Voice
The dark website enables your company to present a unique voice on unionization. Besides your company philosophy, you can share the company position on unionization. Employees get access to the campaign website through a group password, allowing anonymous employee website review in the privacy of the home, giving family members access to the information too. It is also accessible via mobile devices.
The dark website is used for multiple purposes, including campaigns, strikes, contract negotiations and decertification. Different versions of the dark website can be developed if more than one union is involved. Once developed, the website can be up and running in 24 hours, so no time is lost when an ambush election begins.
For greatest effectiveness, your dark website content must be transparent, factual, fresh, interactive, easy to navigate and have a memorable URL. Customizing the content and making it specific to your unique employee demographics, such as a Spanish version for the Hispanic workforce, adds to the impact. The dark website discusses important issues, like employee rights, implications of signing the signature card or online signature, and factual information about unions, such as bargaining and strikes and the impact on employees.
Employees can also read through FAQs and ask questions anonymously, giving management opportunities to respond. Adding interactive online calculators for calculating dues, cost of strikes, the employee investment and the cost of personal risks brings the impact of unionization home to the employee.
Professionals With Knowledge and Experience
Projections has an in-house team of web architects and designers who have developed hundreds of customized employee websites under the brand name of UnionFree.com. These sites are integrated with companion social media and videos specific to the union and issues at hand. Additionally, UnionFree.com sites offer high levels of interactivity, including calculators that demonstrate the personal cost of dues, strikes and benefits. By working with the experts at unionproof.com, employers are able to access insight into the most current strategies employed by union organizers, creating a custom-built UnionFree.com website that responds to the needs of the company by including management live streaming sessions, insightful quizzes testing employee knowledge of unions, and a comprehensive glossary of union terms, among other things.
The professional dark website developer can quickly revise the material to address what is happening at the moment, something that’s often difficult for companies to keep up with themselves. “Because UnionFree.com websites are built with easily modified components, our team can keep information relevant as the campaign progresses,” explains Projections’ President, Chris Craddock. “There just is not enough time to hold a company meeting every time new information should be communicated to employees,” relates Craddock. “Companies choosing to try to maintain these kinds of websites with in-house staff are at risk of losing their employee audience if they can’t maintain relevance to what’s going on every single day.”
The bottom line is that the shorter your time frame is from petition to employees casting their vote, the less time you have to communicate. Pre-prep is essential to connecting with employees. Visit Projections’ UnionProof team at UnionProof.com to download a free report on “Organized Labor’s Secret Online Weapons (and 5 Things You Can Do Right Now to Protect Your Company)” and to learn more about campaign-ready websites to help build trust and stay union-free.