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By: Dan Cohen – 5/19/15

Now that the dust has settled and we are living in a world of quickie elections before the National Labor Relations Board, it is never too early to start preparing for a sudden organizing drive. Some employers take their non-union status for granted and have no idea what it would mean to their business to operate as a union shop. Most employers, however, appreciate their non-union status and actually make it a point to treat their employees fairly, and with dignity and respect. These same employers keep their employees informed and involved, communicate directly with them and take pride in their employee relations. Of course, these employers won’t likely face a union organizing drive and, if they do, they are more likely to be successful. Even so, the quickie election rules reduce the time to campaign down to as little as 13 days depending on the region and the actual circumstances. This is only about a third as much time as employers had to get their message out before. Consequently, now is the time to plot and prepare.

Here are some of the things that employers should consider:

  1. Review and revise policies that have been under attack by the NLRB as overly broad, including work rules, social media and confidentiality policies. Overly broad polices have been found to violate Section 7 of the NLRA and can be used to set aside an election won by an employer;
  2. Consider adopting no solicitation, no distribution and off duty access policies, which can be effective in reducing organizing activities;
  3. Assess the strengths and weaknesses of supervisors and offer supervisory training on what is and isn’t lawful under current Board law, using the “TIPS” protocol (no threats, interrogations, promises or surveillance);
  4. Determine statutory supervisors under section 2(11) of the NLRA;
  5. Identify appropriate bargaining units based upon location of work, job classifications and duties;
  6. Develop and maintain employee lists with all the information that must be provided to the NLRB and the union since employers will have to provide this information immediately upon the direction of an election;
  7. Identify your most credible managers and most effective communicators to get your message across if a union organizing drive occurs;
  8. Open the communication channels between management and employees by considering open door policies, complaint procedures, alternative dispute resolution, small group meetings, social media and blogs;
  9. Involve employees and keep them informed through your various communication means;
  10. Inventory your wages and benefits and compare to your competition, both unionized and non-union;
  11. Conduct a vulnerability audit to see what issues must be addressed

Not all of these things are for every employer, and much depends on your size. The bigger you are, however, the more formalized your plan should be and the more resources you should be willing to devote to the process. Rome was not built in a day so get started now.