Ask the legal expert: How can I keep unions away from my facility?

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Attorney John Durso, Ungaretti & Harris LLP
Attorney John Durso, Ungaretti & Harris LLP

How can I keep unions away from my facility?

Be proactive: Employees become interested in unions because they feel that they are treated unfairly or are not respected. They dislike their immediate supervisors or the company due to poorly understood policies, “unfairly” enforced policies or lack of policies, and poor corporate culture. Union activity seems to be increasing due to general economic conditions and threats of cutbacks.

There are several steps that providers could take to prevent unionizing. Engage in positive employee relations techniques every day. Employees want respect, positive reinforcement, participation in decision-making, opportunities to improve, feeling of unity, and fair, competitive wages and benefits.  Providers should be mindful to avoid favoritism, deviation from policies, and changes without explanation.  

Employers can affect employees' perceptions and influence whether an employee signs a union card. Supervisors should be the primary source of information for employees. Employers should respond to all issues, no matter how small.    

Don't be threatening: Avoid threatening employees with loss of jobs or benefits if they join or vote for a union, questioning employees about their union sympathies or activities, promising benefits to employees to discourage their union support, and transferring, laying off, terminating, assigning employees more difficult work tasks, or otherwise punishing employees because they engaged in union activity.

However, you can explain the possible adverse consequences of bringing in a union, and the high cost of union membership. Let employees know that unionization does not always equate to higher wages.
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