Union Organizing

Labor Relations Week 6 Final Paper Union Campaigning Process Campaigning is something that is done in many aspects of life. It breaks down to basically creating arguments to sell yourself or your company to a group of people. President hopefuls set out on a campaign trail every four years to try and get people to vote for them. I always thought that this was the only form of campaigning, but I was incorrect. Employers and Unions both use campaigning to get workers to either avoid, or join a union. Each side has their own tactics and goals to achieve. I plan to analyze both sides and show the pros and cons of each.
Employer campaign tactics start with four key factors that determine voting decisions. These factors are job dissatisfaction, union instrumentality, general union attitudes and collective social identity. Employers try to provide information to employees consisting of pro-company, anti-union information. Employers use many tactics during their campaign process to attempt to get their workers to avoid joining a union. Some of these include sending out letters or email messages with negative aspects of the union organization, or supervisors meeting with employees individually or in small groups.
Another tactic that works to the advantage of employers is utilizing its private property rights to prohibit outside organizations from entering the workplace and interacting with their workers. A drawback to that tactic is that they have to maintain the rule for all organizations, and not just unions. One of the more common tactics is the captive audience meeting. This is typically a group meeting held in the workplace during work hours, where employees listen to management describe their antiunion and pro-company presentations.

These meetings are completely legal as long as they are not within 24 hours of an election. Employers need to be careful not to cross lines in regards to their tactics. Some of them can be considered illegal if they are overly aggressive or threatening. Some of these employer tactics are heavily debated due to their difficulty to measure and observe, so that kind of has the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) keeping an eye on employer tactics, and how they run their campaign. They want to ensure that there is no threatening of workers, or any other funny business going on.
Union campaign processes also target the four key factors of worker complaints within a company. Union organizers use a vastly different set of tactics to get their information out, and attempt to get a union organized within a workplace. No matter how closely labor laws attempt to regulate the balance of rights during union and employer campaigning processes, the employers always seem to have more power over their property, and their employees. Unions need to get creative with their campaigning. Unions have some disadvantages against them because they cannot show workers instant results.
Instead they make a lot of what seems like empty promises that they need to fulfill if they are successful during their campaign. One of their tactics that they use to get in contact with workers is by accessing the Excelsior List. The Excelsior List is simply a list of the names and addresses of employees eligible to vote in the election. Employers must provide this list to the union organizers to comply with a rule the NLRB established in 1966. Unions then utilize the list to send out mailings or set up home visits by a union representative to speak with the worker directly.
A distinct disadvantage to using this list is that a lot of workers may view it as an invasion of privacy, and choose not to speak with the union representative. Alternatively, with the advance of technology, unions are now utilizing the Internet and web pages to help distribute information without violating an employee’s privacy. In comparison with employer campaigning, unions definitely have a more passive approach. Unions also have to recognize that different campaign tactics work better for different sets of workers. There is a lot to consider when establishing a campaign.
Now, there can be significant problems with each side of the campaign process. Each side has to maintain their role while providing the necessary information desired, and stay within the legal guidelines set forth by the NLRB. Employers must be careful not to make any of their statements seem like threats of unemployment or wage deduction. Our textbook explains this perfectly. “Predictions based on objective facts that some events will likely occur because of forces beyond the employers control are legal; statements that convey the impression that these events are inevitable or at the discretion of the employer are threats. (McGraw-Hill, page 246) Employers tend to be watched more closely in these circumstances, since they have a more direct access to their workers, obviously. While the NLRB cannot monitor everything, the workers can report any inappropriate behavior should it occur. For instance, while a campaign is in process and an election is approaching, employers are not allowed to question workers on their stance regarding unions. This could lead to an employee giving his or her stance, and the employer terminating the employment to avoid them voting for the union, which is not allowed.
Also, if employers choose to activate their privacy protection, and choose not to allow solicitors, they must remain active and apply that rule to all organizations, not just unions. Employers tend to have the advantage in the campaign process, since they can hire consultants and reach the workers directly, as stated. Some of these consultants can make matters worse, by starting rumors, telling lies and blowing things out of context. Our text outlines a particularly extreme case in which “a 17 year employee with no record of violence challenged his plant manager to let the employees talk to a union organizer.
The following day the employer notified the local sheriff that this employee was threatening workers so the sheriff’s deputies surrounded him at gunpoint on his way to work and forcibly took him to the local hospital. Based on what the employer told the sheriff, the employee was involuntarily committed to a mental hospital. He was held for two weeks against his will and forcibly injected with anti-psychotic drugs until a lawyer could obtain his release. This happened in 1999, in South Carolina. ” (McGraw-Hill, p. 248) Reading that is a real eye-opener to how serious this subject can get.
The union side of campaign runs into fewer issues, mainly because of their lack of contact with workers. They are only permitted certain things, and often lack the funds to do much more than their mailings and home visits. One thing that they do have to their advantage is anonymity. Some unions are so bold as to send some of their paid union organizers into an employer to try to get hired as employees! They are referred to as “salts”, since the union thinks they “salt” or enrich the workplace by spreading news about union in non-work areas to attempt to organize the workers.
I think this is actually a brilliant idea to get in under the radar and make some headway if you’re a union trying to organize. And actually, it is considered legal, after the Supreme Court ruled that they are employees protected against discrimination in hiring and firing. (McGraw-Hill, p. 247) Some states are considered at-will, or right to work states, and there are special rules for them regarding unions. “The Taft-Hartley Act outlawed the ‘closed-shop’ rule regarding unions. Closed shop referred to employees at unionized workplaces being required to join the union as a condition of employment.
The Act did permit a new ‘union shop’, which required all new employees to join the union after a minimum period of time after their hire. Under ‘union shop’ rules, employers are obliged to fire any employees who have avoided paying membership dues necessary to maintain membership in the union; however the union cannot demand that the employer discharge an employee who has been expelled from membership for any other reason. ” (Wikipedia) Some people think that there should be limits set forth to campaigning and union organizing.
I agree that there should be some limits set to both sides of this debate. I think that unions should not be allowed to make home visits and invade their privacy. I also think that there should be more strict rules enforcing policies for the employers. I think that it is unfair for employers to discipline their workers simply for getting information on other options for their benefits and happiness. I don’t know how they can enforce these things in the future, but it simply is not fair for employees to be discriminated against, or put in fear of their jobs or benefits.
That could be considered bullying. I think that maybe when it comes to union elections, the NLRB should send in more representatives, and maybe they can have a debate with employer management, and a union organizer, to allow both sides of an argument to be heard in a fair and dignified way, as opposed to simply campaigning, and talking bad about the other side. References: Wikipedia: http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Taft-Hartley_Act Textbook: Budd, Labor Relations: Striking a Balance, Second Edition. McGraw-Hill 2008.

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