Ask the legal expert: how to defeat an attempt to unionize employees

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Attorney John Durso, Ungaretti & Harris LLP
Attorney John Durso, Ungaretti & Harris LLP
With the continued threat of the Employee Free Choice Act, or a bill similar to it, what steps can a long-term care facility undertake to defeat an attempt to unionize employees?

All organizations serving seniors must consider action now to keep their workforce union-free. Issues such as job dissatisfaction, heavy workloads, wages, and inattention by management over workers' concerns trigger labor organizing efforts.

Solving workforce issues before labor unrest occurs is key to a union-free environment. 

Maintaining an open line of communication between management and employees can help avoid dissatisfaction. Your organization also could consider a workplace audit that focuses on employees' views of management and job satisfaction. Listening and proactively responding fairly to audit responses will ensure that the workplace does not become a union breeding ground.

A facility should adopt policies that deter union activity before union organization occurs and provide useful tools in the event of an organization campaign. Such policies might include prohibiting employee visitors in the workplace, a well-communicated grievance and dispute resolution procedure, a no-solicitation policy (including written literature), and a policy preventing personal use of business property (including e-mail).

But to reiterate: These policies are more difficult to adopt after union organization begins. They not only might be less effective, but such activity also could be considered an unfair labor practice. Implementing such a policy could expose the employer to penalties under the National Labor Relations Act.
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