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Winning Results: Successful Union Free Strategies

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Presentation given by Peter Bergeron, Vice President of Client Services at Projections, at recent Associated Builders & Contractors convention

Presentation given by Peter Bergeron, Vice President of Client Services at Projections, at recent Associated Builders & Contractors convention

Published in: Business, Career

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  • 1. Successful Union-free Strategies Peter J. Bergeron Vice President, Client Services Winning Results:
  • 2. Agenda
    • Current Union Organizing Rules – Recap
    • Unionization – Costs to Avoid
    • Analyzing A Slim Margin Of Victory & Believe It Or Not…
    • Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) Proposed & Specter’s version
    • 2009/10 EFCA…No/Short Elections?
    • Preventing Your Next Election?
    • Develop Your Strategic Team
    • Elements Of Your Strategic Plan
    • Successful Communications Vehicles
    • Questions, Answers & Pending Legislation (PLA’s)
    Winning Results ABC October 2009
  • 3. Current Union Organizing Rules
    • Union submits election petition to NLRB
    • At least 30% of cards must be signed
    • NLRB holds election within 4 to 6 weeks
    • Election is by secret ballot. The union must win by at least 50% plus 1 vote – a tie goes to the company
    • Union is usually certified within one week after the election provided no objections
    Winning Results ABC October 2009
  • 4. Some Costs Of Unionization…
    • Typically there are job restrictions reducing flexibility/interchangeability of employees = increased manpower, 5%, 10%, 20%, 30%?
    • Restrictive layoff and recall procedures – forcing layoffs of good workers/retention of poor perf’s
    • Inability to deal directly with your emp’s – must go through a third party or steward
    • Union Stewards/Union Officials paid time off the job
    • Grievances & Arbitrations
    • Preparation for Negotiations
    • Negotiations
    Winning Results ABC October 2009
  • 5. Some Costs Of Unionization… (Cont’d)
    • Strike contingency planning & Strikes
    • Impact of Strikes on Future Hiring
    • Added staffing in HR, Support & Admin
    • Additional legal counsel
    • Impact on attracting new customers
    • Training of management on the terms and conditions of new/existing union contracts
    • IT Reprogramming costs due to contracts
    • Etc, etc, etc……….not an exhaustive list!
    Winning Results ABC October 2009
  • 6. Hypothetical Slim Victory
    • You win the election – 53 to 47!
    • Big collective sigh of relief
    • Upper Management is now on a sugar high and takes all the credit for the victory
    • The euphoria last only a short few days/weeks
    • Reality sets in and management quickly says “We don’t have to worry about that union crap for another year – Thank God!
    Winning Results ABC October 2009
  • 7. Hypothetical Slim Victory
    • HR has already started counting the days/weeks until the next election
    • Regardless if EFCA passes or not, the union only needs to convince a handful of employees to change their mind!
    • A couple more broken promises and a few beers at the union hall and the union wins the next election. Or, with EFCA, a card check win or quick election win is in the bag!
    Winning Results ABC October 2009
  • 8. Hypothetical Slim Victory
    • HR communicates their concerns to upper management as well as their recommendations for implementing strategic proactive measures
    • Upper management listens, nods their heads and politely says “Thank you Human Resources”
    • After the presentation, one can almost hear upper management saying “I think those HR folks are smoking something funny again”
    • Your company must be the only company where this type of reasoning occurs!
    Winning Results ABC October 2009
  • 9. Hypothetical Slim Victory - Believe It Or Not…..
    • Some companies win union elections when they………………
      • Don’t practice any positive employee relations
      • Don’t have a show-stopping issue
      • Don’t believe that union organizing rumors or threats are real or they think they are immune
      • Are just damn lucky (too many are just lucky)
      • Have some combination of any of the above
    • (Some other company – not yours I’m sure!)
    Winning Results ABC October 2009
  • 10. Hypothetical Slim Victory
    • So…………what do you do know?
    • Pray………the union may tie you up with post-election Unfair Labor Practices (ULP’s) – remember, you only won by six votes
    • Prepare….in the absence of ULP’s, you have one year to patch things up - or do you?
    • Begin your “Union-Proofing” today, you must never get complacent
    • Remember, the union only has to win once!!! You must always win!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Winning Results ABC October 2009
  • 11. Employee Free Choice Act “Proposed” Winning Results ABC October 2009 Activity Under Current Law - National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) Under EFCA (as proposed) Union Authorization Cards/Union Petitions If 30% of employees sign, the union can petition the NLRB for an election. If 50% of employees + 1 sign cards/petitions, the union is automatically recognized by the NLRB as the employees' bargaining agent. Union elections are thereby eliminated. Organizing Campaigns Once the petition is filed with the NLRB-employees have up to 42 days to hear facts and make an informed decision prior to the vote. Campaigns are perpetual and never end until the union is able to get a majority of employees to sign. There is potential for enormous costs to companies. Collective Bargaining The company and the union determine timeframe and mutually agree on a contract. 90-day deadline to negotiate a first contract. If no contract, either party can use FMCS to negotiate or mediate a contract.
  • 12. Employee Free Choice Act “Proposed” – Cont’d Winning Results ABC October 2009 Activity Under Current Law - National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) Under EFCA (as proposed) Mediation Optional, either party can request. No agreement in 30 days, the issue goes to an arbitration board. Arbitration Also optional, either party can request - this is very rarely used. Arbitration board (3 arbiters) will determine the terms of the first contract for two years. Decertification A process that can be initiated by employees 12 months following the union's certification. Can't begin until after the 24-month first contract period. Penalties for Violations Varies depending on each situation and violation of the NLRA. $20,000 penalty per violation, can award treble damages for back pay
  • 13. Employee Free Choice Act (Cont’d)
    • What will this piece of legislation morph into?
      • It is anyone’s guess
      • Latest rumors: Arlen Specter’s Proposal – 9/14/09
        • Preserves the secret ballot election
        • Shortened election times, e.g. 5 or 10 days – much like some Canadian Provinces
        • Allow union organizers guaranteed access to employees if company holds mandatory anti-union meetings on company time
        • Treble damages for companies that violate labor laws
        • Mandatory arbitration if a contract isn’t negotiated within a few months
    Winning Results ABC October 2009
  • 14. 2009/10 EFCA…No/Short Elections?
    • 2009/10 EFCA – No Election or Short Election Period…My Predictions……..
      • The Union will always be in a campaign mode
        • Incredibly exhausting
        • Costly
        • War of attrition…see Richard Trumka’s quote
        • You MUST become proactive
        • You MUST initiate a corporate cultural change or…………..you may pay a very dear price!!!
        • Remember – unionization, in most if not all cases, results in marginalized profits
    Winning Results ABC October 2009
  • 15. 2009/10 EFCA…No/Short Elections?
    • Richard Trumka’s definition of a corporate campaign: “Corporate campaigns swarm the target employer from every angle, great and small, with an eye toward inflicting upon the employer the death of a thousand cuts rather than a single blow”
    • I submit, the same quote can very aptly describe union organizing under EFCA
    Winning Results ABC October 2009
  • 16. 2009/10 EFCA…No/Short Elections?
    • 2009/10 EFCA – No Election or Quick Election
      • Never Forget, The Union will always be in a campaign so…….you need to think about your messages!
        • What would your campaign messages be?
        • Who would deliver them?
        • Where would you deliver them?
        • How would you deliver them?
        • What medium would you use?
        • When would you deliver them?
        • How effective would they be in the shortened time period?
        • How costly could this be?
        • WILL OR CAN YOUR COMPANY ADEQUATELY RESPOND IN AN EFCA ENVIRONMENT?
    Winning Results ABC October 2009
  • 17. 2009/10 EFCA…No/Short Elections?
    • It’s 2009/10: what do you do now? (Cont’d)
      • Unions began using the internet in the mid-90’s
      • Unions are using social media to appeal to the younger workers, e.g. Twitter, YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, Squidoo etc.
      • Why? It works, it’s fast, it’s cheap, it reaches a greater audience – remember Obama’s campaign – what did he use?
      • What will your company use to combat the above effective communication tools?
    Winning Results ABC October 2009
  • 18. 2009/10 EFCA…No/Short Elections?
    • It’s 2009/10: what do you do now?
      • EFCA will allow unions to run a seemingly endless campaign
        • Cards/petitions presumably won’t go stale if it’s the same:
            • Union
            • Facility
            • Employees
      • Time will always be on the union’s side
        • There won’t be any more “dress rehearsals”
    • You have only one option – Get proactive now!!!
    Winning Results ABC October 2009
  • 19. 2009/10 EFCA…No/Short Elections?
    • It’s 2009/10: what do you do now? (Cont’d)
      • You can’t underestimate the resolve of unions to wage an endless campaign e.g. IBT 18 months
      • My opinion, seemingly endless union campaigns may unfortunately tire out small and mid-size companies to the point of capitulation
      • You can’t let uneducated employees sign cards just to get the organizers “off their backs”….
      • If elections are eliminated, the dress rehearsals are over…there will be no second chances to change your vote…all signatures will be votes
    Winning Results ABC October 2009
  • 20. Preventing Your Next Election?
    • A six vote victory is not a suit of armor – they will be back – you can count on it!
    • What do you do now?
      • Change the way your company conducts business – (the people business) or, most likely, you will not win another union election
      • If your business does not change, you may find yourself negotiating with a union that matches your culture
      • Poorly run companies typically get the union they deserve
    Winning Results ABC October 2009
  • 21. Preventing Your Next Election?
    • Proactively remove costly reactionary management:
      • Make positive employee relations part of the culture – emphasize your direct working relationship with employees
      • Begin inoculating your new employees day one – review your orientation program and include your union-free statement
      • Conduct annual union vulnerability assessments - identify both real and perceived issues – commit to working these issues
      • Continually review your policies, procedures, handbooks, complaint procedures, etc. – ensure they are legally compliant
    Winning Results ABC October 2009
  • 22. Preventing Your Next Election?
    • Proactively remove costly reactionary management:
      • Constantly communicate with your employees & their families in constructive ways – evaluate your communication platforms
      • Have an energized, well-trained, committed supervisory team
      • Make these Union-free Best Practices part of your business culture – include some/all of these items in sup’s annual review
      • Build a culture where employee involvement is encouraged, recognized and empowered
    Winning Results ABC October 2009
  • 23. Develop Your Strategic Team
    • Lead HR person
      • Not the head of HR
      • Someone experienced, respected by supervision, very good communicator
    • Your Front Line Supervisors
      • Match your seasoned veterans with your newer supervisors
      • Train and retrain this group until union avoidance is in their DNA
      • Keep a small group of key players “Lightening Rods” for union activities
    • Labor attorney
      • Typically an outside firm
      • Inside talent is acceptable as well
      • Sometimes combined talent is used
    • Outside union avoidance consultant
      • Recommended for larger campaigns (250 employee’s or more)
    Winning Results ABC October 2009
  • 24. Develop Your Strategic Team
    • Persuaders
      • Only if necessary
      • Straw polls will be the driver of this need
    • Key management members
      • Involve all strategic stake holders – functional department heads
    • Business unit head
      • Sometimes it is necessary to keep him/her out of this activity
    • Management trainers
      • Either HR and/or Key experiences supervisors or above
    • Communications specialists
      • Recommended for larger campaigns (1,000 employee’s or more)
    • Outside communications vendor
      • Projections, Inc. – don’t settle for anything less!
    Winning Results ABC October 2009
  • 25. Elements Of Your Strategic Plan
    • Create Your Communications Plan
      • One of the top priorities in any campaign
        • Determine all the:
          • Who – determine who will deliver each message
          • What – messages you want delivered
          • When – timing is always crucial
          • Where – will your messages be disseminated internally, externally, both
          • Why’s – evaluate the need for each message, and
          • How’s – the medium to use with each message e.g. team meetings, brochures, web sites, custom videos, off-the-shelf videos, combinations of the above, etc.
    Winning Results ABC October 2009
  • 26. Elements Of Your Strategic Plan
    • Evaluate/Analyze your Demographics – this analysis impacts your communications plans
      • Age
      • Race
      • Ethnicity
      • Gender
      • Language
      • Shift
      • Years of Service
      • Rate of pay
      • Culture
    Winning Results ABC October 2009
  • 27. Elements Of Your Strategic Plan
    • Develop Your Supervisors
      • This group is “The Company” to most employees
      • They are the “company’s eyes and ears” for union organizing
      • Train them on proper straw polling techniques
      • Ensure this group is properly trained on the legal Do’s & Don’ts of communication
      • Make a select few your “information lightening rods” for union related information
      • Ensure that your senior folks become mentors for your newer supervisors
      • This group should be a “sounding board” for any proposed or implemented changes in policies or procedures
      • Remember, this is the group that can win or lose most campaigns
      • Communicate vital information through this group
    Winning Results ABC October 2009
  • 28. Elements Of Your Strategic Plan
    • Continually Work Your “Issues” List
      • Develop your “Issues” list at least twice/year
      • Make it meaningful – don’t sugar-coat it
      • The list should be both an offshoot of your vulnerability assessment as well as “perceived issues” from different parts of the organization
      • You will need upper-management's commitment to this process to make it work
    Winning Results ABC October 2009
  • 29. Elements Of Your Strategic Plan
    • Cultivate Management’s Commitment
      • Union Avoidance “Steering Committee”
      • Vulnerability assessments
      • Demonstrate the financial implications of unionization
        • Ideally, get every senior management member of this team to sign off on the final analysis
        • Ideally, get the business unit head to approve the analysis and make this part of the team’s annual performance review
    Winning Results ABC October 2009
  • 30. Successful Communications Vehicles
    • My greatest successes...proactive mode
      • Custom Icebreaker/Orientation videos used as an adjunct to the employee orientation process
      • Ensuring that your supervisory team is energized, well trained and confident in their employee communications – Labor Look web sites
      • Custom union-free or employee-centric web sites
      • Various other forms of employee communications
      • Constantly keep the employees and their families aware of what is going on…don’t let a third party fill in the “information gaps” – never forget your all-important secondary audience – the spouse and families of your employees!
    Winning Results ABC October 2009
  • 31. Successful Communications Vehicles
    • My greatest successes...campaign mode
      • Structured brochures
        • Both internal and home distribution
      • One-on-one supervisor to subordinate distributions
      • Custom web sites*
      • Some off-the-shelf training videos*
      • Custom 25 th -hour videos*
      • * I was a successful client of Projections for nearly ten years.
    Winning Results ABC October 2009
  • 32. Successful Communications Vehicles
    • Custom samples…proactive mode
      • Custom Icebreaker/Orientation – Labor 101 on the Employee’s Day One
        • Example - Masterbrand
        • Example - JB Hunt
        • Example - NAPA
    Winning Results ABC October 2009
  • 33. Successful Communications Vehicles
    • Custom samples…proactive mode (cont’d)
      • Custom Labor Look web site – custom, structured web sites to proactively communicate with your most important line of defense – your supervisory team
        • Example – TJX
        • Example – Dick’s Sporting Goods
    Winning Results ABC October 2009
  • 34. Successful Communications Vehicles
    • Custom samples…proactive mode (cont’d)
      • Custom Union Free web site – designed to “get out in front” of the communications curve – impacting that all-important secondary audience (before the union does) – the spouses and families of your employees
        • Example - United Rentals (Eng/Spn)
        • Example - Masterbrand (Eng/Spn)
    Winning Results ABC October 2009
  • 35. Successful Communications Vehicles
    • Custom samples…campaign mode
      • Custom Union Free web site – getting fact-based company and union information for employees and families to view in the privacy of their homes – this vehicle works folks!
        • Example – Fed Ex
    Winning Results ABC October 2009
  • 36. Fed Ex Winning Results ABC October 2009 http://www.fedexfreightworkplace.com/
  • 37. Successful Communications Vehicles
    • Custom samples…campaign mode
      • Custom 25 th -hour video – delivering the most impactful final message to your employees in a captive audience session just before they vote – the content, messages, messenger, issues, delivery and duration are keys to its success:
        • Example - L3 Crestview Aerospace
        • Example - Quonset Point
    Winning Results ABC October 2009
  • 38. Questions & Answers
    • Potentially there will be time to discuss Project Labor Agreements.
    • Open Q & A from the floor
    Winning Results ABC October 2009
  • 39. Before You Leave…
    • PLUS: Get free Insider Access to all Projections resources: visit www.UnionProof.com to sign up
    • Have specific questions? Go to www.ProjectionsInc.com or call 877-448-9741
    Winning Results ABC October 2009 Attendees who remained alert and awake for my presentation will receive a copy of my book: “Union Proof – Creating Your Successful Union Free Strategy”
  • 40. Pending Legislation
    • Project Labor Agreements (PLA)
      • Take away worker’s rights to vote
      • Gives unions bargaining exclusivity during the life of the government contract
      • PLA’s are called “pre-hire” agreements generally prohibited by the NLRA but an exception exists for the construction industry – see the definition on the ABC supported site
      • PLA’s mandate employers and employees to adhere to typical archaic work rules, job restrictions and inflexibility
    Winning Results ABC October 2009