Employers have two options for websites dedicated to addressing union organizing and staying union-free. One is to keep a union-focused website available 24/7. The second option is to have a dark website that goes live when a union organizing campaign starts. UnionProof provides resources in the form of video, web, and eLearning to help you remain an employer of choice. We believe that you can create engaged leaders and a culture where unions simply aren’t necessary. We’ve created this guide for website maintenance to prepare you in the event that your employees decide to start union organizing.
Ideally, once a campaign starts, the dark website or the full-time preventive website doesn’t remain static. The website must be nimble, adaptable, and responsive to anything the union might present to employees during the campaign. It must also be factual, engaging, and explanatory so that at any point in time, an employee visits the website; it has fresh information that encourages the employee to return again and again.
Keeping the company’s philosophy on unions and union events current on the website, and the responses to union claims fresh is a key strategy for remaining union-free. Union organizing campaigns are marked by numerous activities, events, and claims, and everything happens fast. Website maintenance becomes a time-consuming and complex process. Fall behind in responding to what is really going on, and the union is more likely to succeed.
The reality is a company must continue operations while also now devoting resources to the union organizing campaign. For practical reasons, many employers choose to let the experts, like those at Union Proof (a Projections, Inc. resource), do the website maintenance to ensure the website is always inviting, current, accurate, and informative for employees.
Maintain Perspective Despite NLRB Rule Change
When a union organizing campaign starts, most employers have approximately ten days to communicate with employees. The National Labor Relations Board recently (December 2019) amended the “quickie election” rules. Per the new NLRB Rule “Representation-Case Procedures” posted in the Federal Register, beginning April 16, 2020, the time between the pre-election hearing and the date the employer received notice, and the time between the petition filing and the election, are lengthened, among other changes.
The rules changes are good news for the employer. However, it is important to keep the union organizing process in perspective. The employer has more time to meet legal requirements and to communicate factually with employees.
On the flip side, the unions also have more time to convince employees to join the union. You can be sure they’ll use that time to find new ways to pressure employees. Employers can expect to respond to a larger number of union claims intended to put the employer in a bad light.
Imagine visiting a website, and nothing ever changes. There is never any new information or updates. The same images and videos appear. It only takes a few visits before a website visitor decides there’s no reason to return to the site anymore. People visit websites and expect to be offered something of value, whether it’s a retail site or an employer’s preventive website or dark website made active. The value delivered is what is motivating.
During a union organizing campaign, an employer wants employees regularly visiting its website dedicated to the union organizing campaign. Tiffany Jackson, the Web Designer/Writer at Projections, Inc., explains, “We encourage and work with clients to update the website 2-3 times a week during a union organizing campaign.” Frequent updating is crucial to keeping the website fresh and engaging for employees.
Think of it in terms of keeping the website relevant to what is happening now, not weeks ago. In fact, keeping the website current and informative contributes to trust-building between the employees and management through transparency. The website is an important communication tool. Stagnant information can send the unintended message the employer really doesn’t care about its employees – what they are thinking or their concerns, or in keeping them informed. Employees will turn to the union for all of their information.
Sharing the Facts to Engage Employees
During a union campaign, an employer can expect unrelenting union activity. The union representatives will likely make many claims with no basis in fact. Employees will have misconceptions because they do not hear the truth from the union about things like the true cost to employees who join unions and how dues are spent.
The President of Projections, Inc., Chris Craddock, offers an example, saying, “Many employees believe their union dues will directly benefit them in some manner. The documented truth is that union dues stay with the union to fund their activities and staff, and the little that goes back to employees is through grievance representation.” These are the facts that employees need to know to make an informed decision when it’s time to vote in the election.
If employees don’t know the truth, they are more likely to vote for a union. This means you need to keep the facts easily accessible. The most effective website maintenance activities include:
- Responding to any rumors and misconceptions the union is spreading during the campaign
- Updating the Home page with a video that delivers fast facts about unions in general and how they work
- Updating the Home page with tidbits of fast facts throughout the organizing campaign, to share information about the particular union(s) involved in the campaign, and linking to a full page on each topic, i.e., history of the union; declining membership; union officer salaries; union constitution; how the union has managed past campaigns; strikes; legal troubles they have been or are involved in; number of unfair labor practices that have been filed against the union, etc.
- Updating the Home page with videos of company leaders reinforcing the advantages the company offers employees and the company’s union philosophy
- Regularly changing the Home page teasers to highlight different pages or topics that speak to campaign issues
- Posting relevant news articles and videos of union activities and community support
- Posting labor relations professional’s responses to anonymous employee questions along with common questions and answers
- Maintaining a variety of calculators, i.e., strike calculator, dues calculator, etc.
- Adding, updating or reinforcing company information as needed to clarify facts in response to union statements
Tiffany Jackson advises employers, “It’s important to make website updates early and regularly to not only engage employees but also to clearly communicate your company’s position on unions and the current campaign, as well as facts about the union.” One of the strategies UnionProof suggests to help clients keep their websites on the minds of employees is utilizing the Launch & Engagement Toolkit. The toolkit has a number of items that include letters to employee homes, wallet cards, digital signage, posters, and video postcards for introducing the site via email or SMS.
Utilize Available Expertise
To do the job right takes a lot of company resources, taking people away from day-to-day operations. Using a consulting company with expertise in union campaigns to perform website maintenance is the most efficient and economical way to ensure the website is kept fresh and engaging.
“The goal,” says Chris Craddock, “is to keep employees coming back again and again to the website to read the information and ask questions.” They must be educated and kept engaged throughout the campaign in order for the company to stay union-free.
A customized company website is an ideal solution. It enables the employer to include company-specific information and to use the most effective communication approach for their particular workforce. Other website options include a ready-made union-specific website or a pre-produced general website with add-ons to meet specific company needs.
When it comes to website maintenance, don’t hesitate to reach out to the professionals. We’d love to help you with a custom solution for your workplace.