From Readers

May 1, 2009

Amended Union Bill Could Be a Win-Win

Although the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) has a few flaws, I am not pleased with SHRM’s opposition to the act, as noted in HR Magazine ("HR News," March). SHRM should be working with the new administration by requesting amendments to the act.

One change should require unions to inform the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) of any intent to campaign at a specific location. The NLRB should then be required to inform the employer of the campaign. No employer should be surprised about the possibility of a union representing their employees.

And all employees should be given honest, accurate and understandable information regarding the consequences or benefits of union representation. Without that information, even the current confidential ballots are meaningless.

Unions are not the enemy of the employer. They are there to maintain checks and balances in the working world.

I have worked with three unions. As management, I was not a union member, but was required to report HR and payroll information to them. All three times were wonderful experiences. The unions provided education to members via apprentice and continuing education programs, which were definitely a benefit to the employer. Work and ethics standards were applied, with work evaluations linked to production and education as well as tenure. The employer knew what it was expected to provide to the employees, and the employees knew what was expected via their job descriptions, which were continually updated on an individual basis. The shop foremen monitored all issues. This made employee issues much easier to address, as everything was written.

It is unfortunate that there is a need for unions. If employers followed the laws and treated employees with respect, then unions would not exist. Employees would not seek those extra disability or workers’ comp checks or other ways to "get even" with unscrupulous employers.

Not all companies have evil CEOs. Those organizations should be applauded, and will not have employees requesting union representation.

As not all CEOs are evil, the same can be said about unions. SHRM should be offering education to its members. Bashing unions is not the way to do it. It should lobby, not to abolish the act, but to amend it. Unions do not have to be the enemy, but can be an advocate to any HR department.

The EFCA could be a win-win proposal with a little fine-tuning!

Kathleen Kush, PHR
Myrtle Beach, S.C

Religious Expression OK in the Workplace

Unlike the author of "Keep Proselytizing Out of the Workplace" ("From Readers," February), I am convinced that it is best for any company to protect the right of free religious expression for all of its employees, whether they be the Christian clerk in the mailroom or the Muslim vice president or the Jewish administrative assistant. To do otherwise would send a message that the company is only interested in being tolerant to some employees, not all employees.

I work for a large company that employs people in six states and two countries. The board of directors has always maintained that the company was founded on Christian principles—also known as the Golden Rule. That doesn’t mean they don’t respect and encourage the rights of the Jewish sales manager or Muslim foreman or the atheists that may or may not be employed here. They do not discriminate against homosexuals, even if it’s against someone’s religious beliefs; nor do they force anyone to subscribe to one faith or another—or any faith at all, for that matter. No one is obligated to participate in religious activities; but if they choose to, they can be assured that theirs is a tolerant workplace.

As for the author’s comparison of religious expression at work to sexual activity at work, that leaves me virtually speechless. To compare the two activities is ludicrous. One constitutes illegal activity in most states and one is protected by the Constitution. As a member of the human resources and legal professions for 23 years, I think I’ll continue to advise my employers to be tolerant of activities protected by the Constitution.

Melissa Milligan
Lake Placid, Fla.

HR Magazine welcomes letters from readers. Submitted letters are subject to editing and are the property of the magazine. To submit a letter, visit or fax us at (703) 535-6488.


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