Discuss some employer tactics used to prevent or minimize union membership growth prior to the passage of the National Labor Relations Act in 1935. Which, if any, of these tactics would be lawful today? Why, or why not? Examine the challenges for unions and employers in the modern workplace.
This assignment needs to be two pages in length.
MHR 6751, Labor Relations and Collective Bargaining 1
Course Learning Outcomes for Unit II Upon completion of this unit, students should be able to:
4. Identify union avoidance strategies.
10. Interpret the laws that affect unions and equal employment.
Reading Assignment Chapter 3: Legal Influences Chapter 4: Unions and Management: Key Participants in the Labor Relations Process
Unit Lesson Welcome to Unit II. As you will recall from Unit I, we are comparing a collective bargaining agreement to the divorce process. As such, we have decided to change our current relationship because our contract has run out (marriage has ended). At the same time, though, we want to remain on good terms. We have started the pre-bargaining stage of the collective bargaining process by selecting our teams: those who will represent our best interests. We have begun to collect data to present our case in an informed and professional manner. Just as partners in the marriage give notice of their intent to divorce by serving each other a written notification, management and the union must also notify each other that they intend to negotiate a new contract. Each must notify the other—as well as the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service—a minimum of 60 days prior to the end of the contract that they intend to negotiate a new agreement/contract. This notification is typically in writing as a matter of record. When we are collecting data to present our best option(s), it is best to review all earlier documents such as the former contract or, in the case of a divorce, any signed prenuptials. We want to review what is no longer working for us and why we want to make changes. Like most business decisions, if we want to strengthen our case we also want to offer solutions. We want to gather the information we need that will support our proposed solutions. In the divorce analogy, let’s say I am the ex-wife. I have been raising our children and will continue to do so. I will want financial support from my ex-husband, but I must make a case for the amount I need and document it with data. I would love to get $10,000 a month, but is that realistic? To get what I want, I need to show it is realistic and in line with similar cases. Back to collective bargaining, if the union wants a wage increase of $2.00 an hour, the union must show that the company can realistically afford the $2.00 per hour increase and that such an increase is in line with industry standards. In the Harper Container Company (HCC) case in Appendix A, there are tools to make calculations and predictions that will support the position of each party. For example, the decisions worksheet contains information such as base wages for all employees, facilities upgrade options and associated costs, and the accounting effects of altering annual leave of inventories, receivables, payables, and short- and long-term debt into future years. It gives the management team a clear picture of the company’s current financial position and the ability to see the effects on the bottom line when making adjustments for proposed changes to the various areas. This allows the team to test options and see the effects financially. For example, if the union wants a $2.00 an hour raise, the management team could plug in the increase and see the financial impact over the next three to five years. The management team could also determine what the production numbers would have to look like in order to make a profit. This tool is necessary if management wants to make the best possible decision for the company. It takes considerable time to set up the worksheet and coordinate with the financial and human resource experts—particularly in a large
UNIT II STUDY GUIDE
The Law and Key Players in the Negotiating Process
MHR 6751, Labor Relations and Collective Bargaining 2
UNIT x STUDY GUIDE
organization that employs hundreds of union employees or more than one union—but it is well worth the time and effort. The management team would start this worksheet by inserting figures and any associated conditions from the current contract. Associated conditions might include subcontracts, seasonal variations, and legal requirements. In the HCC case, for example, the law requires that the company make some federally mandated environmental equipment upgrades. In the case of a divorce, let us go back to the example of me as the ex-wife. I have an attorney who also has similar tools to determine the cost of living for future years as I continue to raise our children. After some thoughtful calculations and review of income statements, perhaps $10,000 a month is not realistic, and perhaps $7,000 a month is a better figure. Now that we have gathered the data, it is time to determine our main areas of concern, and from there we can decide on our objectives and set priorities. We want to determine what it is we must get, what we would like to get, and what would be nice to get from the other party. Our must gets are those things we will want to fight the hardest for, so it is very important that those areas have current and accurate data to support our position. The like to gets are those things that we would like to obtain as a result of the bargaining process, but they are not necessary for us to move forward. The nice to gets are those things that we are interested in but would concede if it moved us closer to getting our must gets. Going back to the divorce example, assuming that I will have custody of our children, I must get financial support and a guarantee that the financial support will be available until our children reach 21 years of age (unless they are in college). This is a reasonable concern because I have been raising our three children for 10 years and have been out of the workforce. Even if I could return to work, it will take some time to become trained. Regardless, it is doubtful I will reach the financial level needed to support our three children on my own with the lifestyle to which they were accustomed. My like to get is a house with no mortgage, and my nice to get would be continued gym membership and use of our time-share vacation membership. In the HCC case, each side must determine must gets, like to gets, and nice to gets. It is reasonable that management must get the facility upgrades in order to be federally compliant. Failure to do so could result in costly legal fees and governmental fines, which will affect the company’s bottom line significantly as well as its reputation with customer stakeholders. It is also reasonable to determine that the union members must get a wage increase. As the case indicates, the HCC managers have received an annual raise of five percent plus annual bonuses for the past three years whereas union members have received less and are earning less than their industry counterparts. Also, the union members are losing money by being forced to take vacation during maintenance downtime that includes two holidays. Must gets are issues that either party is willing to fight for. In the case study, the United Chemical and Plastic Workers (UCPW) group is willing to go out on strike if they do not negotiate a wage increase in this contract. Management has the lockout option at their disposal. Both teams must support their must gets to the members and the stakeholders to the point that they are willing to stop negotiations and go on strike or initiate a lockout if necessary. Production potentially stops or becomes expensive to maintain in the case of replacement workers. Both teams need to have the data ready to support their positions on must gets. The more prepared each team is, the easier it will be to negotiate a settlement that both parties can live with. The old saying, “It is not fair!” is not good enough in collective bargaining. Supporting data is critical to success.