Strategies to Counter Union Organizing

September 4, 2014

Unions have suffered an unabated decline, reaching the lowest point in market penetration since the post-World War II peak, falling well under 7 percent of the private sector. In addition, Michigan has become the 24th right to work state denying unions mandatory dues support.

Now over one year old, Michigan’s new right to work freedom has had a profound impact on the bastion of labor and the behavior of unions. Understanding the meaning of right to work, why unions hate it, the challenges unions have thrown at it, and what it does for employees, is critical to any plan to defeat union drives.

Unions have to substantially boost membership or die. With a friendly D.C. Administration and an activist-appointed NLRB, dramatic changes are definitely under way. Election speed-up is one of those key changes, giving unions the advantage of delivering an organizing message and getting to election before employees have a chance to hear the other side.

Unions are engaged in more aggressive organizing, with new organizing strategies, in a more comprehensive approach. New strategies incorporate the use of legal, regulatory, political, media, and community approaches to burden the employer and force the union win. Unions are trying for a comeback with these new strategies.

Employers need to focus on effective counter-measures, including quick response to early organizing signs. Ultimately the absence of time is the enemy of all strategies to win. The employer's disadvantage is learning of a union campaign only after an election petition has been filed, with little time for employees to learn the truth about union representation. Critical to the employer's strategy is the development of an early-warning alert.

Election speed up requires rapid response. Get the message out to employees before unions go to the NLRB. Employers need a plan to counter the incipient union campaign, and get the answers they need for rapid response.

Contributed by Steve Fishman, Chair, Workplace Law Group/Bodman PLC.