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HOW TO REMAIN UNION FREE

9/23/2005 - Oh, you canít scare me, Iím stickiní to the union . . . Till the day I die.Ē

When Woody Guthrie wrote that song back in the 1930ís, American society was dramatically different than it is today. In 2005, throughout America, only about 13% of the total workforce belongs to a labor union. Some twenty years ago, that number was 20% and just after World War II Ė Woody Guthrieís time -- it was about 35%. However, even though overall union membership is declining nationwide, unions are still actively recruiting members and conducting union representation campaigns at employers throughout the Country, and unions are still a threat to virtually any business that wants to remain non-union. This includes automobile dealerships, medical offices, health care, pest management companies, retail and wholesale businesses, funeral homes, banks and financial institutions, manufacturing plants and many others. For these businesses and more, union activity is occurring even as we speak. So, the question becomes, how serious is this threat and how do you remain union free?

In the first place, the threat is imminent and gravely serious. As an employer, you must make a conscious decision that you want to remain union free and are willing to make a commitment to achieve that goal, because remaining union free requires swift and positive action.

Itís our experience that you donít remain union free by knocking heads or by becoming tough with employees or the union. To the contrary, the best way Ė some might say the only way -- to remain union free is to implement and administer the kind of Human Resources policies and procedures that result in employees who are satisfied with their jobs and their working conditions, to the extent that they donít want a union and donít think they need a union to represent them.

A myriad of objective studies reveal that, given a level playing field, most employees donít want a union, and that they turn to a union only as a last resort. Most employees want to remain loyal to management. So, what actions should you take to remain union free? Here are our recommendations. These are tried and true Human Resources policies and procedures that, over a period of time, tend to work.

∑ Seay Managementís 5 Step Program To Remaining Union Free.

1. Establish and communicate an employee relations policy, stating that your employees are your most important assets. There is absolutely no question that none of us are any better than our employees. If we have good employees, weíll have a good and successful company. If not, itís otherwise. We must value and appreciate our employees, and we must tell them so. If we donít tell them, they wonít know. The first step in remaining union free is valuing and appreciating your employees.

2. Develop, implement and communicate both (a) an Open Door policy and (b) an Employee Complaint Resolution Procedure, sometimes called a Grievance Procedure. An Open Door policy, on the one hand, declares that any employee can talk with any member of management with whom he or she feels comfortable. It bypasses the chain of command, but operates under the principle that, if thereís a problem, itís better to find out about it, one way or the other, so that we can resolve it. An Employee Complaint Resolution Procedure, on the other hand, is a systematic way to resolve problems, complete with 2-4 steps, specific timetables and feedback to the employees concerned. To achieve the goal of employee satisfaction, you need both of these policies.

3. Conduct an Employee Opinion Survey regularly. An Employee Opinion Survey is a measure of how your employees feel and what they think about their work and their jobs. Itís completely confidential and is a rich source of important information which you can use to make important management decisions that will increase morale and productivity. Here are two important points to remember: (a) simply giving the survey, regardless of any action taken, tends to raise employee morale; and (b) once a union appears on the scene, itís virtually impossible to administer a survey, owing to National Labor Relations Board regulations. In addition, in the midst of a union campaign, these same regulations restrict an employer from making improvements in pay, benefits and working conditions for employees. Therefore, itís important to administer the survey and make positive changes before the union arrives on the scene.

4. Train your managers to recognize the signs of union activity and, upon recognizing them, to know what action to take, what they can do and not do. TIPS training tells us what management cannot do. But, what management can do is much more important. When a union appears on the scene, swift and decisive action and reaction by management is vital to success and managers have more good and positive alternatives than they realize.

5. Have an outside firm conduct a Union Vulnerability Audit, to identify, correct and eliminate those areas of employee relations that could provide the union with a vulnerability area into your employees and their jobs. If you can eliminate the sore spots and capitalize on your strong points, the union is much less likely to be successful because your employees are more likely to be satisfied.

∑ These Policies Will Work For You.

During the past nearly 40 years, our firm has successfully contended with nearly every major union in this country and can testify, based on this experience, that these recommendations will work for you. But they donít work because theyíre tough Ė they work because they are policies that treat employees with fairness, equality, dignity and respect, so that remaining union free becomes a by-product of a good employee relations program. As a result, you will have employees who donít want a union, because theyíre satisfied with their work and their jobs and they have a bottom line sense of fairness on the part of management.

If you would like to know more about ďHow to Remain Union Free,Ē contact your Seay Management Consultant at sandy@seay.us, jennifer@seay.us or peyton@seay.us. Weíll be happy to talk with you and work with you to achieve this important goal.



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