For those organizations with a non-union workforce, Hutchison Group can help to discreetly determine your vulnerability to potential union organizing and reduce your risk of having to endure a union campaign. Having worked with both union and nonunion companies over the past 30 years, our labor and employment consulting firm have learned to identify key warning signs and recommend proactive steps to remain union free. 

Prevent Costly and Disruptive Union Organizing Campaigns

Failure to recognize early warning signs of union activity can result in having to engage in a costly and disruptive union campaign, which can create deep and long lasting divisions within the workforce, not to mention the negative consequences should the union prevail (e.g. increased costs, restrictive work rules, work stoppages , etc.). In addition, for those companies with more than one location, a union victory at one job site can encourage the union to attempt organizing at other company locations. 

Watch Out: Union Membership is on the Rise 

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics “Union membership is on the rise for people younger than age 35 … there were almost 400,000 more union members younger than age 35 in 2018 than there were in 2017”.

To underscore this finding, a recent survey by the Pew Research Center reported that the popularity of labor unions has grown in recent years, citing that their favorability hit 60% in January 2017, with only 35% percent of Americans viewing them unfavorably. 

Assess Your Vulnerability to Union Organizing

One of the best ways to determine a company’s vulnerability to union organizing is to conduct onsite employee relations assessments. Using this proven process, our experienced union relations consultants meet with small groups of employees, where they can talk freely and share their opinions about the company. 

Equally important to identifying employee concerns, our improving labor relations assessment process helps to reaffirm that management values employees’ ideas and contributions, which are essential for maintaining a positive working relationship. Other important benefits derived from our employee relations consulting program include: 

  • Assess the company’s vulnerability to union organizing
  • Increase level of trust, mutual respect, and cooperation
  • Identify obstacles to communications, teamwork, and productivity 
  • Secure practical suggestions for improvement
  • Understand major reasons for employee dissatisfaction and turnover 

Companies that “listen” to employees and train their supervisors to develop good working relationships can reduce interest in union membership and deter union organizing efforts

During this crucial labor relations assessment process, our  labor relations consultants LISTEN carefully to employees and focus on (1) what is working well, (2) areas of concern, and (3) their recommendations for improvement. These employee relations assessments are almost always appreciated by the employees, and the insights derived from these conversations provide management with a valuable opportunity to address areas of concern in a proactive manner. As a result, employees are far less likely to seek out union representation, and the union is denied potential inroads or issues they might otherwise exploit in their attempt to organize the workforce. Prior to conducting the first session, Hutchison Group will meet with senior management to discuss the process, answer any questions, and identify areas of particular interest that should be explored during our employee relations sessions.

Identify and Address Areas of Concern Before they Become a Problem

By addressing problems proactively, not only can the company demonstrate that it cares about employee concerns, but they can deny union representatives potential “foot holds” that they might otherwise use to support their organizing efforts. Also, it should be noted that when companies wait to fix problems until after a campaign begins, the union is quick to take credit for any improvements, telling employees “look, we’re already forcing the company to make changes, just wait until after the election.”

At the completion of the employee relations assessment process, Hutchison Group will carefully analyze the employee inputs derived from each session and provide the company with a comprehensive report regarding our findings, along with specific recommendations for employee relations improvements.  

Labor Relations Training for Supervisors (best way to reduce your risks)

The success of almost every company is largely determined by the performance and productivity of their employees. For this to happen, much depends on the employee’s day-to-day relationship with their immediate supervisor.

In fact, research shows that even a few supervisors with poor interpersonal skills can be the cause for instigating union organizing campaigns, grievances, litigations, and other costly disruptions. Unfortunately, as critical as the supervisor’s role is, our union relations consultants have found that many companies spend very little time training and educating their supervisors.

“Research shows that even a few supervisors with poor interpersonal skills can instigate union organizing campaigns.”

Our labor relations training for supervisors is conducted on site and is typically completed in just three hours. We understand that every company has different goals and objectives, so our labor relations consultants start our planning process by meeting with senior management to ensure our labor relations training program for supervisors addresses their specific areas of concern. The benefits of this program include:

  • Discuss how supervisors can reduce the risk of costly union organizing campaigns
  • Help supervisors understand how their daily interactions with employees can serve as a catalyst or deterrent to union organizing
  • Share useful techniques for motivating employees and provide practical suggestions for self-improvement 
  • Teach supervisors how to respond to union organizing activity, including the legal do’s and don’ts when discussing union inquires
  • Clarify company expectations for the supervisory role
  • Improve communication, teamwork, and performance
  • Help reduce employee turnover, grievances, and litigations

Again, supervisors are in the best position to create and maintain a positive work environment; helping to reduce the frustrations and resentments that often lead to union activity. That said, providing labor relations training for supervisors is extremely important.

Reassure the Board of Directors and Shareholders

As an added benefit, these labor relations training efforts help to reassure the Board of Directors and Shareholders that management has been proactive in identifying and addressing areas of concern, as unionization can negatively impact stock price and company valuation. 

“Your labor relations training was excellent, providing our supervisors with useful information and practical tools to help reduce the risk of potential union organizing at our nonunion operations”

Univar USA

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