Increasingly, social media has become an important organizing tool for labor unions, and employers must be familiar with the ways in which unions are using social media in order to form a bulwark against these activities. Editor of WorkPlaceReport.com Peter List writes that as social media has become more ubiquitous over the past few years, labor unions have begun to aggressively use Facebook, Twitter and other social-media platforms to aid in organizing techniques. Moreover, according to the Labor and Employment Report, social-media organizing is particularly effective among millennials who are also “more receptive to unionization.”
Benefits of Using Social Media as an Organizational Tool
1. Social media, email and mobile devices let employees communicate and organize discreetly. According to The Century Foundation, by using these technologies, workers can begin an organizing campaign out of sight from their employers. This ability gives workers the opportunity to discuss issues in their workplace and how organizing may address these issues.
2. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently reversed its years-long policy banning employees from using their workplace internet connections for organizing activities. Now the NLRB states that employees can use their workplace internet and email for organizing activities, during non-working time.
3. By using social media, employees are able to communicate with a large number of their colleagues instantly. Also, workers are able to begin organizing on their own. Since many employers successfully characterize labor unions as outsiders, the workers’ ability to organize on their own easily can seriously undermine this argument.
4. Social media allows workers to coordinate with national labor unions. This gives them access to experienced union organizers who can give them information regarding strategies and best practices. By connecting with national unions over social media, workers may also gain access to labor attorneys.
5. Using social media makes the whole organizing process easier for those involved. Labor unions can use specific algorithms to target areas that might be particularly susceptible to labor organizing. Employees can use these algorithms to identify potential demands.
How Great Employers Connect With Employees Online
Obviously, one of the best ways an employer can prevent union organizing is to ensure that the employee morale is high. According to the Labor and Employment Report, employers should make sure that managers and supervisors receive training to “take notice of and address changes in the workplace, including changes in employee personality and morale.” Since unhappy employees can easily take to social media to vent their frustrations and connect with other like-minded employees, you can get ahead of the game if you can keep your employees from wanting to unionize in the first place.
Moreover, employers can harness social media to improve relations with their employees and make union organizing less likely. According to WorkPlaceReport.com, companies should “focus on using social media as an engagement tool.” By keeping your employees engaged, it will be harder for labor organizers to gain support in your organization. For example, offer online videos that connect and meaningful learning resources for your employees and supervisors.
Even if you don’t believe that unions are threatening your company, it’s important to use social media to engage with your employees in advance of any organizing attempts. If a labor union targets your company later and you haven’t established a social-media presence, then it may be too late to do so with credibility. Employees view late social-media development as an obvious attempt to counteract union-organizing activities, and those efforts will likely fail.