The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act that President Obama signed into law last week is just the beginning of what's shaping up to be a wave of new pro-employee legislation from the current Congress and administration.
Next up on the Congressional front-burner: the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), which would make it far easier for unions to gain certification. In this Congressional climate, organized labor is poised for rapid expansion.
Should you really be concerned? EFCA would eliminate the long tradition of secret-ballot union elections, replacing them with a simple "card check." That would make it infinitely easier for a union to worm its way into your organization. Preparing for EFCA: Your Biggest Union Threat in 50 Years
For employers that don’t relish the thought of having a unionized workforce, now is the time to audit your vulnerability. How can you tell if workers might be eager to embrace union representation? Ask yourself these six questions:
1. Do employees feel insecure about their jobs or believe they don’t have opportunities for advancement?
2. Is there poor communication between management and employees?
3. Do you pay your employees less than your competitors do? Are your benefits worse than what other employers in your area or industry offer?
4. Do employees feel that favoritism is a factor in workplace decision making?
5. Are your supervisors poorly trained?
6. Do you lack performance standards and coherent ways for providing feedback to employees?
Get the essentials on the proposed law, find practical steps to avoid an organization bid, learn the right way to respond to unionizing efforts and safeguard your organization from other pro-union proposals on the horizon. Preparing for EFCA: Your Biggest Union Threat in 50 Years
Many issues that make a company vulnerable to organizing deal with fairness. Unions sell the idea that a collective-bargaining agreement eliminates favoritism. It may or may not work out that way, but an employee who feels mistreated can easily be seduced by such an argument.
Employers should evaluate all aspects of employee relations. How do pay and benefits compare with the rest of your industry? Look at terminations, disciplines and lawsuits to see if certain practices or particular supervisors keep causing problems.
What if you're targeted? If you find yourself the target of an organizing effort, keep your head. Federal laws prohibit employers from discriminating against employees due to their participation in union activities.
Offering increased pay or benefits in return for a nonunion vote is forbidden, as is threatening or disciplining employees solely because of their union support. Employees are free to discuss union issues during nonworking hours and on breaks. You also can't punish an employee for wearing or displaying a union insignia.
There’s no guarantee that the EFCA will become law next year, but it wouldn’t be smart to bet against it. Act now to make your office or plant a better place to work, and you may be able to keep union organizers at bay.
If you've never had to worry about unions before, you do today. Employers must prepare NOW for the radical changes ahead. Preparing for EFCA: Your Biggest Union Threat in 50 Years
- How to Fire an Employee the Legal Way: 6 Termination Guidelines
- 10 Secrets to an Effective Performance Review
- Don't let opinions of employees cloud your decisions
- Use encouraging, fair—and honest—appraisals when coaching newly promoted employees
- Former employee sues Mayo Clinic
- Design restrictive agreements that protect you—and stick in court