How can we prevent a union from organizing in our company?

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Almost all employers are eligible for union organization—there is no minimum size or type of industry required for a union to represent employees. However, there are strategies employers can use to minimize the likelihood that a union would be accepted by employees.

Employees join unions because of their dissatisfaction with how management treats employees and a belief that the union can make conditions in the workplace better. While pay and benefits are often hot topics in union organizing tactics, employees are most influenced to join a union when the company is perceived to be unfair, unresponsive or offering substandard working conditions to employees.

Employers that minimize employee dissatisfaction can also minimize employees’ desire for union representation. Strategies that help discourage union acceptance are:

  • Fair and consistent policies and practices.
  • Open door management policies.
  • Competitive pay and benefits.
  • Employee trust and recognition.

A workplace that fosters good relationships between management and employees and addresses employee concerns is much less likely to force employees to union representation for assistance.

So what happens when the union shows up at your door? Communicate with your employees; be sure they understand the company’s position and desire to remain union-free and the reasons behind it. Just be careful not to engage in any unfair labor practices. While unions have a tremendous amount of freedom to solicit employees, make promises and “organize,” employers are much more restricted. The acronym TIPS can help remind employers not to:

  • Threaten—never threaten to retaliate against employees by terminating them or reducing pay or benefits.
  • Interrogate—do not interrogate employees about their activities or activities of co-workers.
  • Promise—do not promise anything to employees, such as promotions or benefits, in exchange for not supporting the union.
  • Surveillance/Spying—never spy on union activities. Employees have the right to meet with the union representatives and “hear them out” without management interference.

Employers can and should talk to employees about why they think the workplace can do without the union. Emphasize the policies, practices and culture that are already in place that make your company a great place to work. Let your employees hear your side of the story so that they can make an educated decision about how bringing a union into the workplace will affect them.

The bottom line is that if you communicate openly and honestly with employees and your workplace is truly one that fosters good employee relations with fair and consistent policies and practices, employees should find little value in union representation.


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