Labor Relations is a very delicate part of a business that should be properly reviewed and studied before implementing or changing a businesses conduct. Happy Trails is a medium-sized company that is trying to minimize cost to continue to serve its tenants with a cost effective service. Unfortunately cost has to be reviewed in all possible ways and strategies. We will be covering a few of the advantages and disadvantages of unionizing. A recommendation will be given to help guide Happy Trails.
A review will also be conducted of the issues a union might raise during the organizing effort. The steps that should be covered by the LPN’s will also be presented. We will then present the labor practice that the LPN’s should avoid. We will then advise the independent living home management on what we feel they should do. We will cover the arguments and defense the hospital will rise to the unions organizing issues. Then we will take a look at what the company must do if they resist unionization. We will then see what unfair labor practices need to be avoided by management. We will finalize this paper by reviewing what activities Happy Trail management should and should not engage in.
Advantages & Disadvantages
The advisement to unionize, or not, is a complicated stance. There are advantages and disadvantages on both sides of the decision. With a decision to unionize, the LPNs would be protected and guaranteed wages and certain work conditions. On the other hand, Unionizing immediately creates an adverse relationship between members and the employer sometimes out weighing the benefits. In the event that a group of employees has a community of interests coupled with concerns about their treatment as an employee by an employer for any reason, the employees have the right under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), (Bennett-Alexander & Hartman, 2007).
In this case, the recommendation for the LPN’s would be to unionize. This would protect them from being over (or under) worked, insure that proper wages and entitlements were established, as well as make sure Happy Trails was not expecting or giving RN level care through the lesser qualified LPNs.
Steps to Unionize
For the group of LPN’s at Happy Trails, the first step would be to contact the local healthcare union representative mentioned in the overview. This would be a perfect starting resource for information, questions and answers. This is also the step in which the union should become clear about what issues are important and expected to be addressed by the collective bargaining. For the LPN’s at Happy Trails, their issues should be concentrated on wages, minimum hours worked, overtime terms, benefits, as well as clearly understanding the scope of their expected duties.
Secondly, the LPN’s would need to decide to join an already established industry union, or to create a union of their own. In either case, a sufficient number of authorization cards (or petition signatures) must be acquired, and the union must be voted in during a union representation election, or by asking the employer to voluntarily recognize the union. The National Labor Relations Board supervises and the union election, and certifies the results (Bennett-Alexander & Hartman, 2007).
The last step is to win a strong union contract. The LPNs in this case would need to negotiate wages paid, overtime payment terms, benefits, and minimum expected hours worked. Any union is only as valuable as the contract agreed upon. Unfair Labor Practices that should be Avoided by the LPNs
Generally, most unfair labor practices are committed by the union or the employer. The only unfair labor practice the LPNs should avoid is to not try to coerce their fellow workers to join the union.
Should Happy Trails Oppose Unionization?
Although unionization of groups like nurses is typically non-traditional, over the past 10 years there have been many registered nurses’ groups that have unionized across the country because of the demand for their employment and the shortage of nurses. Because of the need to have every American be able to afford healthcare, licensed practical nurses are in demand more because of their lower wages. Happy Trails should not oppose unionization.
There are many other healthcare facilities in the area who are working with unions Happy Trails would benefit by negotiating with a union also. Because of the unhappy nurses at Happy Trails, trying to block unionization would probably be the worse step for the organization take. Employees may feel that management’s trying to manipulate them and this can decrease employee morale. The nurses may go to any of the other facilities to seek work and representation by the union for better working conditions. If Happy Trails loses more nurses, it may be hard to recruit new workers.
Steps to Resist Unionization
Tactics and strategies must be implemented in order to resist unionization. One strategy that has been used in the past is to hire consulting firms, also known as union busters (Bennett-Alexander & Hartmann, 2007). These firms use methods that discourage employees from voting to have union representation. This strategy is a costly one and should only be used if basic steps are not working. One important step to avoiding unionization is through employee relations (Thomas & Associates, 2009). Employee relations programs have the employees best interest in mind. An effective program will help employee/employer communication, which can help resolve any issues or dissatisfaction.
If step one does not stop union organizing, the next step is to prevent the union from gaining employee support. Throughout this step the company should inform the LPN’s of the cons of signing a union authorization card. If the employees are informed and feel valuable to the company they will be less likely to sign a union card. Information can be provided through meetings, letters, and bulletin boards. If an election campaign begins because 30 percent of employees signed cards, the next step is to resolve any employee issues and to legally convince employees that their best interests are served by rejecting the union. Happy Trails would need to build a strong campaign and reinforce the value of the existing benefits and the excellent working conditions.
Arguments against Unionization by Happy Trails
Arguments Happy Trails can use against unionization include the following:
• Funding the workers’ salary if a union exists
• Relationships between employee and employer may be threatened with a union • Union dues paid by employees is taken from their paycheck • The union cannot guarantee anything What unfair labor practices need to be avoided by management? a) Management should not try to control or interfere with union affairs. They should not try to get their favorite/certain candidate to be elected to the union office. b) Management should not discriminate against employees who join or is in favor of brining in a union. They should not discriminate against employees “who exercise their rights under the law (e.g., terminating, demoting, or giving poor working schedules to such employees).” (Bennett-Alexander & Hartman, 2007, pg 666)
c) Management should not interfere, threaten or restrain their employees from exercising their rights under the labor law legislation, for example, they should not tell employees that they are not allowed to have unions or they will be punished or terminated if they do bring a union). d) Management should not refuse to bargain with the union. And they should not refuse to bargain in good faith. • Happy Trails’ management team may engage in any number of activities during the unionization. Which of the following would you advise? Explain why or why not? Activities during Unionization
Promote LPNs, offer bonuses, and place some into leadership and management roles. Unionization can be a long process but is quite beneficial for the LPN’s. Unions are typically formed because employees are unhappy with their pay, working conditions, or poor benefits. For that reason the activity management should engage in is to actively promote LPN’s, offer bonuses, and place some into leadership and management roles. This is the best tactic to use and could benefit Happy Trails as well as the LPN’s. However, the company has to make sure the tactics do not interfere with the employees’ efforts to unionize. Raises and opportunities must be given to everyone, not just union supporters; otherwise the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) could view the act as illegal and as unfair labor practices. As long as the employer bargains in good faith no law has been broken.
Tell employees salary increases must cease to finance the collective bargaining agreement.
This option is not viable therefore I do not recommend it. Utilizing scare tactics and threatening to cease salary increases will do more harm than good. Strikes could occur, which would have a negative impact on the company. The LPN’s shouldn’t feel like they are being punished for going with the union.
Explain current employee benefits to the LPN’s, comparing them to union promises.
Though this option is informative it is timely. There are cons to being in a union such as dues and possible strikes. Providing information to employees could sway their decision especially if they are not familiar with the union practices. However, overall the union has benefited employees, which is why this method could be more wasteful than effective. Most union members have better benefits and pay than non-union members. The LPN’s are aware of the superior wages and benefits other LPN’s in the areas have received therefore there is not much to explain.
Threaten to close facility due to union campaign
Being that Happy Trails is a health care facility, closing the facility would not be practical. It would also be considered discrimination against employees if they closed the facility down due to the union campaign. The NLRA does not allow discrimination against employees for participating in union activities. By staying open, they have the upper hand and it would give them more opportunity to explain the disadvantages of a union to their employees.
Assist in circulation of antiunion petitions.
During a unionizing campaign an employer cannot assist in antiunion petitions. Assisting in this activity could be considered interference by the employer. Participating in these activities is illegal and viewed as unfair labor practices.
Counter union exaggerated claims on flyers.
We recommend the management not to send the flyers with exaggerated counter offers to union claims. The management is not supposed to “promise wage increases or other benefits if employees don’t join the union.” (Bennett-Alexander & Hartman, 2007, pg 673) And they are not supposed to e-mail, post or circulate any intimidating letters or leaflets (flyers). The management can however give pay raises or benefits, but they have to give them all across the boards, not only to the union supporters.
However, this tactic is limited if the management decides to do this after the union has applied for the certificate or has given notice to the management to bargain its first agreement. Tell employees they do not need to talk to union organizers, that they may vote against the union, and that the independent living home does not welcome the union. We recommend the management to talk with the employees, and tell them that they have the option to join the union, but it’s not mandatory for them to join. They can also tell the employees that the independent living home does not welcome the union, but if the employees vote for the union, the management will follow the good faith bargaining agreement.
Solicit employees to request the return of their authorization cards. We would recommend the management not to ask employees to return the authorization cards (badges) that mean you are letting them go. Employers can not threaten to fire, lay-off or terminate employees for supporting or joining a union. Tell employees they may be replaced if they vote for the union. We would recommend the management not to tell employees that they will be replaced if they vote for the union. That would mean the management is threatening the employees. Management can’t threaten to fire, lay-off or terminate employees for supporting or joining a union. Appeal to the employees to defeat the union.
We would recommend the management to talk with the employees and tell them not to vote in favor of the union. The independent living home will do everything possible to raise the wages and benefits as much as possible if the union is defeated. The management has to be careful not to negatively influence the employees against the union. The management can also tell the employees, that if the union is organized, we will treat the collective bargaining process with full faith and not follow any unfair labor practices. The management also can state that we will follow exactly what the law requires. Statistics for union members in United States and California (Statistics, 2013): [pic]
When making huge changes that change an employees, benefits, pay, rights, and responsibilities it is very important and should be done very carefully. A company must remember how important these changes are to people and what issues could be created if the employees feel they are not being taken into consideration. When an employee feels violated they can go to extreme measure like becoming part of a union.
A union can become a huge burden for a company and cost employees money. Many of the reasons why employees look at unions can usually be avoided and handled in house. Employees should also remember that a union cost money and they should search for a union that is worth their money. Unfortunately sometimes employees end up loosing more than winning when they become part of a union. If the people in the union are not doing their job and looking out for all employees then they might just be spending their money and not getting what they deserve.
Bennett-Alexander, D. D., & Hartman, L. P. (2007). Employment law for business (5th ed.). Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill. Ch. 14-Labor Law. Pg. 666 & 673. Labor Union Statistics. Retrieved on February 17, 2013. http://www.bls.gov/ro9/unionca.htm Thomas & Associates (2009). Avoiding Unions. Retrieved February 18, 2013 from http://www.employersattorneys.com/employment-law/California-employer-how-to-
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