AIM has warned employers for more than a year that organized labor, backed by a sympathetic administration and pro-union regulators, was preparing to launch all-out organizing offensive to reverse decades of declining membership and influence.
Well, the battle has been joined and it looks like a bloody campaign for Massachusetts employers.
In the past 24 hours, AIM has become aware of two local organizing campaigns that bear all classic hallmarks of aggressive union tactics. One company learned about the organizing drive only after the union began handing out cards to arriving employees. The second company found out about the campaign when the official NLRB petition for an election arrived on the president’s desk.
Both organizations now face expensive, contentious, resource-draining and uphill battles over the next six weeks to maintain control of their businesses.
The organizing campaigns come as the newly constituted National Labor Relations Board has issued several key decisions that will significantly change the regulatory environment for union organizing. All of the decisions featured a 3-2 vote with a trio of former union attorneys forming the majority:
- NLRB ruled in favor of a union demonstrating (with large banners) against secondary employers with whom it had no direct labor dispute. The decision seems to provide unions with the freedom to drag neutral parties into labor disputes and contravenes years of established precedent preventing secondary picketing.
- The board reversed a previous decision that gave employees 45 days to challenge a voluntary decision by a company to recognize a union based upon receiving authorization cards signed by a majority of workers. The new board ruled that such voluntary recognition cannot be challenged for up to a year. An interesting sidelight to the decision is the sharply worded dissent of the board’s two minority members who basically stated that the majority overturned precedent simply to enhance unionization.
- The new majority has also indicated that it will review a 2002 decision giving successor companies the ability to challenge whether or not a union represents the majority of employees. The board chairperson has indicated a desire to return to a standard agreed to in 1999 that when an organization operating under a union contract is acquired, the purchaser is obligated to continue to recognize the union with no opportunity to test whether or not it still represents the majority.
It doesn’t end there. Two weeks ago, a California congressman introduced a bill that would essentially prohibit states from enacting “Right to Work” legislation. The bill would require all employees to join a union if their employer has a collective bargaining agreement. Today, in “Right to Work” states, an employee has the option to join the union or not with no impact on employment resulting from their decision.
The dramatic shifts in the organized labor environment require heightened awareness for all employers. Unions continue to seek opportunities to build membership by focusing on organizations with weak or inattentive supervision, non-competitive pay and benefits or those lacking in real employee appreciation. Despite the continued recession, employers with the self-indicting attitude that “they should be happy they have jobs” are most vulnerable.
The two local organizing campaigns underscore the reality that an investment in training, awareness and understanding makes companies a less vulnerable target when the union appears.
AIM is a ready resource in providing you with the tools, training and insight to prepare your organization, and your critical first line supervision, to deal with a union threat.