Timing Is Everything: NLRB Officially Adopts New Rules on “Quickie” Elections
When it comes to union elections: time is of the essence. Unfortunately now, there’s not going to be much of it.
Yesterday—only ten calendar days away from the end-of-December deadline—the NLRB raced to adopt organized labor’s controversial election rules. The new rules will be published into the Federal Register today, and are due to take effect on April 30, 2012.
Unfortunately for employers, the new rules will cut the average election time down substantially—shortening the time period between when the employee election is requested and when the actual election takes place.
How will this hurt? It will give employers much less time to react to union organizing efforts; thereby, making it easier for the union to secure its footing in your workplace.
Four Quick Tips for Employers:
1. Communication Is Key: Establish Dialogue with Employees
Employers should, in lawful messages, educate employees. Make sure they know their right to elect a union or remain union-free. Explain the positive aspects of working for your organization and the disadvantages of becoming unionized (dues, strikes, assessments, etc.). Also, compare the wages and benefits of union competitors because often, union wages are lower or the same as what a non-union company offers. Not to mention the fact that non-union workers save on dues. These are points that workers will appreciate.
2. Evaluate Employee Satisfaction
Festering workplace issues and unhappy employees create a fertile climate for unions. Engage your workers in an objective workplace audit. Zero in on their views of management’s responsiveness, compensation levels and workplace safety. Employers need to understand their workforce if they are to maintain a union-free workplace. Do not let workplace issues simmer.
3. Engage a Law Firm or Labor Consultant Now (and Pay Attention to Cultural Factors!)
With the new “quickie” election, engaging a law firm or labor consultant cannot wait. A law firm or consultant, with a successful labor background, can get you back to where you need to be with your workforce. The attorney or consultant will establish lawful communications and understand the intricacies involved when pro-union inclinations have already seeped in. And do not forget: Pay attention to cultural factors!
With the ever-growing Hispanic workforce population, as well as other diverse cultures within today’s workforce—be mindful of culture. When employers are not sensitive to their employees’ culture(s), communication efforts get lost in translation, and unions are often misperceived due to legal differences between countries. An understanding of immigration laws is also important. Engage a law firm or consultant with cultural competency and understanding of immigration laws.
4. Analyze Policies
Certain employer policies can help prevent the circumstances which typically lead to unionization. To be effective, however, policies must be in place before any organizing activity takes place. Such policies include open-door policies, visitors at work, translations for non-native English employees, solicitation of fellow employee policies, dispute and problem-solving options and/or distribution of literature policies.
Jacob M. Monty is the founding partner of Monty & Ramirez LLP. He is board certified in labor and employment law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is a member of the American Law Institute and named to Texas Super Lawyers in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011.