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The most terrifying thing an employer can say…

January 30, 2016

Wanna take a guess on what might be the most terrifying thing I’ve recently heard from an organizational leader? G’head…I’ll wait…feel free to phone a friend, it’s all good…

…got it? Awesome. Let’s see if you guessed correctly:

“Oh no, no, no; we would never be at risk for unionization. We’ll *never* have those kinds of problems.”

While I’m picking my jaw up off the floor, I’m also trying to internalize this:


I’m not assuming said company is vulnerable but I am assuming that assuming is a really bad idea, along with relying on outdated survey data. Conditions have radically changed when it comes to employers and unions and if you’re not really sure what that means, it’s time to perk up. Plus, a little refresh never hurts.

Over the past few years, the NLRB has given unions an ever-expanding amount of latitude while consistently decreasing employer capacity to solve issues without third party meddling and manipulation. The NLRB has handed down overly broad rules, revisions, and interpretations while stifling employers’ abilities to help employees understand their choices. Contrary to what unions would like the public to believe, most employers are not hideous monsters who desire to abuse their employees.

An example of the NLRB’s union-biased actions is the sanctioned violation of employee privacy by requiring employers to hand over personal email addresses and cell phone numbers (if they have them). Needless to say, being contacted by a union representative at home, during non-work hours (i.e., family time) could be quite intimidating and intrusive.

One of the worst changes has been the NLRB’s facilitation of quickie (or ambush) elections, which makes it more difficult than ever for employees to take the time to think through what’s right for them. Physiologically, our brains are still hard-wired to prompt us to run from that sabertooth tiger, despite the fact that there aren’t any around. Because of this, stress triggers adrenaline which pumps the blood away from our brains – where we need it to make good decisions. It follows that any employee who would find themselves in the middle of a rushed union election would likely experience a great deal of stress. Even the NLRB’s own data strongly suggests that shortened election times favor unions, not employees.

Zero tolerance

The reality is that all employers should play it safe and consider themselves vulnerable unless they have very recently determined overwise. Even then, everybody benefits when satisfaction and engagement remain at the center of everyone’s focus; thus, no resting on laurels.

If anyone in a management capacity shows resistance or lack of buy-in, they must go. Don’t risk having untrained, poorly trained, or badly behaved management interact with employees. Your management team is the first and best line of defense in maintaining your organization’s health.

While nobody wants a witch hunt, that’s exactly what companies will face when unions take hold of their employees’ hearts and minds. The climate favors unions even before they contact one of your employees. Given the chance to make sure your employees don’t feel like they need a third party in their work lives, you’d take it, right? Yes, I thought you would!

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