248-409-1900 dburke@mi-worklaw.com

By:  Dan Cohen – 6/24/14

          Over the weekend, I read an article, “Neutrality agreements aid UAW in organizing.” According to Brent Snavely, who wrote the article,

 “[N]eutrality remains the exception in an environment that is hostile to most unions. Now that the right-to-work movement has penetrated Indiana and Michigan, even companies in that portion of the industrial Midwest will be emboldened to resist. The climate is not growing any more hospitable in the South, either.”

         I beg your pardon Brent, but what environment are you referring to that is “hostile to most unions”?

          How about a dose of reality, Brent? The National Labor Relations Act gives employees the right to self-organization, to form, join or assist a union, to engage in collective bargaining or to refrain from any or all such activities. 29 U.S.C. §157 (otherwise known as §7 rights). This means it is their own decision whether to vote a union in as their bargaining representative. This same law gives employers the absolute right to bring employees the other side of the story after the union tells them just how great they are and how much they can do for the employees. The NLRA allows the union to lie to the employees and make unrealistic promises to them. But this same law requires employers to tell the truth and does not permit employers to make promises to the employees. This cannot possibly be the environment Brent believes to be “hostile” to the Union.

          What Brent must be referring to is that when employers do tell employee the other side of the story, the union generally loses the election. This is why unions push so hard for neutrality agreements, which generally prevent employers from becoming involved in the union election. They don‘t want employers to tell their employees the truth about what it means to be represented by the Union. For example, they don’t want employees to know that the International Brotherhood of Teamsters has a provision in its Constitution that takes away the right of the employees to vote on a contract that they, the employees, want to ratify. Quite frankly, referring to this environment as “hostile” is intellectually dishonest and actually ignores reality.

          Employers should not sign neutrality agreements. With rare exceptions like Volkswagen in Tennessee, signing a neutrality agreement will result in a union victory and a duty to recognize and bargain with the union, which translates into less profit for the business. Employers should care enough about their employees not to sign a neutrality agreement so they can tell them the truth about unions and how being represented by a union will affect them. Employers owe it to their employees to be upfront with them.