The proposed Employee Free Choice Act is focusing attention on the nature and quality of labor-management relations in the U.S. Given the current political climate and the number of Democrats in decision-making positions in Washington, it is highly likely that some version of this bill will be passed, sooner rather than later. Among other provisions, this legislation makes it easier for unions to organize workers.

In essence, employees will be asking themselves this question: "How does my employer treat me on a day-to-day basis?" If your employees are satisfied with the answer to that question, it's unlikely that they will choose to join a union. However, if they are dissatisfied with the answer, they will be far more likely to exercise their right to seek third-party representation.

How can employers prepare for this new world of labor-management relations? Here are ten suggestions to get you started:

  1. Make a conscious decision about how high employees should be on your organization's priority list.
  2. Learn all you can about existing labor laws, including what actions are legal and illegal.
  3. Make sure that the actions of every member of your management team are legal and ethical.
  4. Conduct a realistic assessment of your work environment from the employees' point of view.
  5. Based on the results of the evaluation, develop a plan to address deficiencies.
  6. Implement that plan as soon as possible. Under current labor law, employers are prohibited from making changes in the terms and conditions of employment once a union organizing campaign has begun.
  7. Involve employees in the assessment, planning, and implementation stages.
  8. Make a long-term commitment if substantive changes are required.
  9. Focus on increasing the level of trust between employees and managers.
  10. Communicate, communicate, communicate!

For a tool to guide you in assessing your work environment, see the Business Solutions section of this newsletter.

Pat Lynch, Ph.D., is President of Business Alignment Strategies, Inc., a consulting firm that helps clients optimize business results by aligning people, programs, and processes with organizational goals. You may contact Pat or call (562) 985-0333.


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