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Chapter 10 Union/Management Relations and Grievances Chapter Overview This chapter deals with the nature of unions, globalization of unions, union membership trends, unions in the U.S., U.S. labor laws, the process of unionization, collective bargaining issues, the collective bargaining process, union/management cooperation, and grievance management. Why employees unionize is discussed. The two primary reasons are dissatisfaction with how they are treated by their employers and the belief that unions can improve their work situations. Why employers resist unions is discussed. The role of HR professionals in effectively handling unions is also discussed. Globalization of unions is explored by looking at union membership globally, global labor organizations, and U.S. and global unionization differences. Unions represented more than 30% of the workforce from 1945 to 1960. Among factors accounting for this decline of U.S. union membership are deregulation, foreign competition, a larger number of people looking for jobs, and a general perception by firms that dealing with unions is expensive compared with non-union alternatives. Also, geographic, industrial, and workforce changes have resulted in a decline of unions. The union targets for membership growth is discussed. The next section talks about the evolution of U.S. Unions, its structure, and also provides examples of some industrial unions. This section also discusses about the AFL-CIO federation, Change to Win, National and International Unions, and Local Unions. Next the chapter describes the labor laws in the U.S. Early labor legislation includes the Railway Labor Act and the Norris-LaGuardia Act. The chapter also discusses the Wagner Act, the Taft-Hartley Act, and the Landrum-Griffin Act. The Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 regulates public sector union-management relations at the federal level. Proposed legislation is also discussed. Steps in the unionization process are detailed including the organizing campaign, authorization cards, representation elections, certification and decertification, and contract negotiation. Key collective bargaining issues discussed are those of management rights and union security. The classification of bargaining issues as mandatory, permissive, and illegal is also covered. Next, the collective bargaining process is traced through four stages: Preparation and initial demands Negotiations Settlement or impasse Strikes and lockouts Union/management cooperation programs are also described. The chapter ends with a discussion of grievance management including responsibilities, procedures, and steps in a typical grievance procedure. Chapter Outline Exactly how political, economic, and workforce trends affect employers and unions are important considerations, and HR professionals need to understand the laws, regulations, court decisions, administrative rulings and public perceptions associated with unions. I. Perspectives on Unionization A union is a formal association of workers that promotes the interest of its members through collective action. In the United States, unions typically try to increase compensation, improve working conditions, and influence workplace rules. When a union is present, these issues are decided through collective bargaining agreements and specified in formal contracts that have been ratified by management and labor. Union presence and activity is influenced by laws. As such, the ability of unions to function as bargaining entities is based on how they gain and keep favor with politicians who represent their interests in government. Unions also donate funds directly to political candidates, as well as indirectly through union voter-mobilization drives and large political-action committees. Union representation has many advantages and disadvantages. Unions can provide a balance to the unchallenged decision-making power of management when needed. Increases in job performance and employee earnings are also often associated with unionization. Alternatively, unions can negatively impact the allocation of organizational resources, cause decreases in profitability, and hurt productivity as a result of increased compensation. A. Why Employees Unionize Whether a union targets a group of employees for organization, or the employees request union assistance, the union must win support from the employees to become their legal representative. Over the years, employees have joined unions for two general reasons: They are dissatisfied with how they are treated by their employers They believe that unions can improve their work situations The major factors that can trigger unionization are issues of compensation, working conditions, management style, and employee treatment (Figure 10-1). B. Why Employers Resist Unions Some employers would rather not have to negotiate with unions because they affect how employees and the workplace are managed. Unions are criticized for creating inefficiencies at work that cause waste and poor performance. Union workers frequently receive better compensation than nonunion workers, raising salary costs for the company; but on the flipside, higher pay and benefits might help job performance. Despite any higher productivity of its unionized workers, managers still try to identify labor-saving ways of doing work to offset increased expenses. Human Resource Professionals and Unionization To prevent unionization or to work effectively with unions already representing the workforce, both HR professionals and operating managers must be attentive and responsive to employees. The pattern of dealing with unionization varies among organizations. In some firms, management handles labor relations and HR has limited involvement. In other organizations, the HR unit takes primary responsibility for resisting unionization or dealing with unionized employees. II. Union Membership in the United States The statistics on union membership over the past several decades tell a disheartening story for organized labor in the United States. As shown in Figure 10-2, union membership covered more than 30% of the workforce from 1945 to 1960. But most recently, union membership in the United States represented only 11.8% of wage and salary workers in 2011 and 11.3% in 2012. In the public sector, membership in unions was 35.9% of the workforce in 2012, and membership was only 6.6% of the workforce in the private sector. The actual number of members has declined in most years. However, it’s not all bad news for unions, some unions and their members are prospering. In the past several years, unions have organized thousands of janitors, health care workers, cleaners, and other low-paid workers using publicity, pickets, boycotts, and strikes. In some states, membership in unions functioning under the AFL-CIO has steadily increased over the last several years, which is attributed to the economy turndown and concerns about poor work opportunities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics disclosed that union membership among employees working in the private sector had recently increased by approximately 50,000, for a total of almost 15 million individuals. A. Reasons for U.S. Union Membership Long-Term Decline Several general trends have contributed to the decline of U.S. union membership, including deregulation, foreign competition, a larger number of people looking for jobs, and a general perception by firms that dealing with unions is expensive compared with nonunion alternatives. Management at many employers has taken a much more activist stance against unions than during the years of union growth, and economic downturns also have had negative impacts. To some extent, unions may be victims of their own successes. Unions in the U.S. historically have emphasized helping workers obtain higher wages and benefits, shorter working hours, job security, and safe working conditions. Some believe that one cause for the decline of unions has been their success in getting those important issues passed into law for everyone. Geographic Changes During the past decade, job growth in the United States has been the greatest in states located in the South, the Southwest, and the Rocky Mountains. Most of these states have little tradition of unions, more “employer-friendly” laws, and relatively small percentages of unionized workers. Primarily to take advantage of cheaper labor, many manufacturers with heavily unionized U.S. workforces have moved a significant number of low-skill jobs to the Philippines, China, Thailand, and Mexico. Industrial Changes Much of the decline of union membership can be attributed to the shift in U.S. jobs from industries such as manufacturing, construction, and mining to service industries. Private-sector union membership is primarily concentrated in the shrinking part of the economy, and unions are not making significant inroads into the fastest-growing segments in the U.S. economy. For example, there are small percentages of union members in wholesale/retail industries and financial services, the sectors in which many new jobs have been added, whereas the number of manufacturing jobs continues to shrink. Workforce Changes Many workforce changes have contributed to the decrease in union representation of the labor force. The decline in many blue-collar jobs in manufacturing has been especially significant. Many white-collar workers see unions as resistant to change and not in touch with the concerns of the more educated workers in technical and professional jobs. B. Public-Sector Unionism Unions have enjoyed significant success with public-sector employees. The government sector (federal, state, and local) is the most highly unionized part of the U.S. workforce, with more than 40% of government workers represented by unions. Local (city and county) government workers have the highest unionization percentage of any group in the U.S. workforce. C. Union Targets for Membership Growth The continuing losses of union support and influence have led to disagreements among unions about how to fight the decline. Rather than remaining a part of the traditional AFL-CIO labor organization, seven unions split into a new group in 2005. Calling itself Change to Win, this association has a goal of taking a more aggressive approach to adding union members and affecting U.S. political legislation. III. Union History and Structure in the United States The union movement in the United States has existed for more than two centuries. During that time, the nature of unions has evolved because of legal and political changes. A. Evolution of U.S. Unions The union movement in the United States began with early collective efforts by workers to address job concerns and counteract management power. As early as 1794, shoemakers organized a union, picketed, and conducted strikes. In 1806, when the shoemakers’ union struck for higher wages, a Philadelphia court found union members guilty of engaging in a “criminal conspiracy” to raise wages. The American Federation of Labor (AFL) united several independent national unions in 1886. Its aims were to organize skilled craft workers and to emphasize economic issues and working conditions. It was not until the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) was founded in 1938 that a labor union organization focused on semiskilled and unskilled workers. Years later, the AFL and the CIO merged to become the AFL-CIO. That federation is still the major organization coordinating union efforts in the United States today. B. Union Structure Labor in the United States is represented by many different unions. Regardless of size and geographic scope, two basic types of unions have developed over time: In a craft union, members do one type of work, often using specialized skills and training. Examples are the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, etc. An industrial union includes many persons working in the same industry or company, regardless of jobs held. The United Food and Commercial Workers, the United Auto Workers, etc. are examples of industrial unions. AFL-CIO Federation Labor organizations have developed complex organizational structures with multiple levels. The broadest level is the federation, which is a group of autonomous unions. A federation allows individual unions to work together and present a more unified front to the public, legislators, and members. The most prominent federation in the United States is the AFL-CIO, which currently representing over 9 million workers. Change to Win The establishment of Change to Win meant that seven unions with over 5 million members left the AFL-CIO. The primary reason for the split was a division among different unions about how to stop the decline in union membership, as well as some internal organizational leadership and political issues. Prominent unions in the Change to Win are the Teamsters, the Service Employees International Union, and the United Food and Commercial Workers. National and International Unions National and international unions are not governed by a federation even if they are affiliated with it. They collect dues and have their own boards, specialized publications, and separate constitutions and bylaws. Like companies, unions find strength in size. In the past several years, about 40 union mergers have occurred, and some other unions have considered merging. For smaller unions, these mergers provide financial and organizing resources. Larger unions can add new members to cover managerial and administrative costs rather than having to recruit more members. Local Unions Local unions typically have business agents and union stewards. A business agent is a full-time union official who operates the union office and assists union members. The agent runs the local headquarters, helps negotiate contracts with management, and becomes involved in attempts to unionize employees in other organizations. A union steward is an employee who is elected to serve as the first-line representative of unionized workers. Stewards address grievances with supervisors and generally represent employees at the worksite. IV. U.S. Labor Laws The right to organize workers and engage in collective bargaining offers little value if workers cannot freely exercise it. Management has consistently developed practices to prevent unions from organizing employees. Over a period of many years, the federal government has taken action both to hamper unions and to protect them. A. Early Labor Legislation Beginning in the late 1800s, federal and state legislation related to unionization was passed. The Railway Labor Act (RLA) of 1926 represented a shift in government regulation of unions. The result of a joint effort between railroad management and unions to reduce transportation strikes, this act gave railroad employees the right to have union representation. In 1936, airlines and their employees were added to those covered by the RLA. Three acts passed over a period of almost 25 years constitute the U.S. labor law foundation: The Wagner Act The Taft-Hartley Act The Landrum-Griffin Act Figure 10-4 indicates the primary focus of each act. Two other pieces of legislation, the Civil Service Reform Act and the Postal Reorganization Act, also have affected only the governmental aspects of union/management relations. B. Wagner Act (National Labor Relations Act) The National Labor Relations Act, more commonly referred to as the Wagner Act, has been called the Magna Carta of labor and is, by anyone’s standards, prounion. With employers having to close or cut back their operations, workers were left with little job security. Unions stepped in to provide a feeling of solidarity and strength for many workers. The Wagner Act declared, in effect, that the official policy of the U.S. government was to encourage collective bargaining. Specifically, it established the right of workers to organize unhampered by management interference through unfair labor practices. Unfair Labor Practices To protect union rights, the Wagner Act prohibited employers from using unfair labor practices. Five of those practices were: Preventing employees from using their right to organize or to bargain collectively Preventing the development or management of any labor organization Affecting labor organization membership by tampering with hiring decisions and/or employment situations Mistreating an individual because he or she filed charges or gave testimony under the stipulations of the Act Electing not to negotiate with labor representatives National Labor Relations Board The Wagner Act established the National Labor Relations Board as an independent entity to enforce the provisions of the act. The NLRB administers all provisions of the Wagner Act and of subsequent labor relations acts. The primary functions of the NLRB include conducting unionization elections, investigating complaints by employers or unions through its fact-finding process, issuing opinions on its findings, and prosecuting violations in court. The five members of the NLRB are appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. C. Taft-Hartley Act (Labor Management Relations Act) The passage in 1947 of the Labor Management Relations Act, better known as the Taft-Hartley Act, was accomplished as a means to offset the pro-union Wagner Act by limiting union actions. It was considered to be pro-management and became the second of the major labor laws. The new law amended or qualified in some respect all the major provisions of the Wagner Act and established an entirely new code of conduct for unions. The Taft-Hartley Act allows the President of the United States to declare that a strike presents a national emergency. A national emergency strike is one that would impact an industry or a major part of it in such a way that the national economy would be significantly affected. The act allows the U.S. President to declare an 80-day cooling-off period during which union and management continue negotiations. Only after that period can a strike occur if settlements have not been reached. Right-to-Work Provision Section 14(b) of the Taft-Hartley Act allows states to pass laws that restrict compulsory union membership. Accordingly, several states have passed right-to-work laws, which prohibit requiring employees to join unions as a condition of obtaining or continuing employment. The laws were so named because they allow a person the right to work without having to join a union. The states that have enacted these laws are shown in Figure 10-5. D. Landrum-Griffin Act (Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act) The third of the major labor laws in the United States, the Landrum-Griffin Act, was passed in 1959. Since a union is supposed to be a democratic institution in which union members freely vote, elect officers, and approve labor contracts, the Landrum-Griffin Act was passed in part to ensure that the federal government protects the democratic rights of the members. Under the Landrum-Griffin Act, unions are required to establish bylaws, make financial reports, and provide union members with a bill of rights. The law appointed the U.S. Secretary of Labor to act as a watchdog of union conduct. E. Civil Service Reform and Postal Reorganization Acts Passed as part of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, the Federal Service Labor Management Relations statute made major changes in how the federal government deals with unions. The act also identified areas subject to bargaining and established the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) as an independent agency similar to the NLRB. The FLRA, a three-member body, was given the authority to oversee and administer union/management relations in the federal government and investigate unfair practices in union organizing efforts. In a somewhat related area, the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970 established the U.S. Postal Service as an independent entity. Part of the 1970 act prohibited postal workers from striking and established a dispute-resolution process for them to follow. F. Proposed Employee Free Choice Act The Employee Free Choice Act would allow unions to sign up workers on cards (referred to as “card check”) and the unions to become recognized without an election by secret ballot if enough signatures were collected. As a result, the “campaigns” to organize that unions dislike would be eliminated because simply getting 50% of the workers in a unit to sign a card would be sufficient to bring in the union. Further, the proposed law would require a contract to be negotiated within a certain time period or an arbitrator could impose a contract if none had been agreed upon. V. The Unionization Process The process of unionizing an employer may begin in one of two primary ways: A union targeting an industry or a company Employees requesting union representation The logic for targeting is that if the union succeeds in one firm or a portion of the industry, then many other workers in the industry will be more willing to consider unionizing. In the second case, the impetus for union organizing occurs when individual workers at an employer contact a union and express a desire to unionize. The employees themselves—and/or the union—may then begin to campaign to win support among the other employees. A. Organizing Campaign Like other entities seeking members, a union usually mounts an organized campaign to persuade individuals to join. Employers sometimes respond to unionization efforts by taking various types of opposing actions. Employers’ Union Prevention Efforts Management representatives may use various tactics to defeat a unionization effort. Such tactics often begin when union publicity appears or during the distribution of authorization cards. Some employers hire consultants who specialize in combating unionization efforts. Using these “union busters,” as they are called by unions, appears to enhance employers’ chances of winning the representation election. Unions’ Organizing Efforts The organizing and negotiating successes of unions are tied to the economy and economic trends. The persuasion efforts by unions can take many forms, including personally contacting employees outside work, mailing materials to employees’ homes, inviting employees to attend special meetings away from the company, and publicizing the advantages of union membership. The purpose of all this publicity is to encourage employees to sign authorization cards. To encourage individuals to become involved in unionization efforts, unions have adopted electronic approaches, such as establishing websites where interested workers can read about benefits of unionization B. Authorization Cards A union authorization card is signed by employees to designate a union as their collective bargaining agent. At least 30% of the employees in the targeted group must sign authorization cards before an election can be called. Union advocates have lobbied for changing laws so that elections are not needed if more than 50% of the eligible employees sign authorization cards. Some states have enacted such laws for public-sector unionization. Also, some employers have taken a neutral approach and agreed to recognize unions if a majority of workers sign authorization cards. Some employers’ agreements allow for authorization card checks to be done by a neutral outside party to verify union membership. However, the fact that an employee signs an authorization card does not necessarily mean that the employee is in favor of a union. It means only that the employee would like the opportunity to vote on having a union. Employees who do not want a union might sign authorization cards because they want management to know they are disgruntled or because they want to avoid upsetting coworkers who are advocating unionization. C. Representation Election An election to determine if a union will represent the employees is supervised by the NLRB for private-sector organizations and by other legal bodies for public-sector organizations. If two unions are attempting to represent employees, the employees will have three choices—union A, union B, and no union. Bargaining Unit Before any election, the appropriate bargaining unit must be determined. A bargaining unit is composed of all employees eligible to select a single union to represent and bargain collectively for them. If management and the union do not agree on who is and who is not included in the unit, the regional office of the NLRB must make the determination. A major criterion for deciding the composition of a bargaining unit is what the NLRB calls a “community of interest.” Employees who constitute a bargaining unit have mutual interests in the following areas: Wages, hours, and working conditions Traditional industry groupings for bargaining purposes Physical location and amount of interaction and working relationships between employee groups Supervision by similar levels of management Supervisors and Union Ineligibility Provisions of the National Labor Relations Act exclude supervisors from voting for or joining unions. As a result, supervisors cannot be included in bargaining units for unionization purposes, except in industries covered by the Railway Labor Act. But who qualifies as a supervisor is not always clear. The NLRB expanded its definition to identify a supervisor as any individual with authority to hire, transfer, discharge, discipline, and use independent judgment with employees. Election Unfair Labor Practices Employers and unions engage in many activities before an election. Both the Wagner Act and the Taft-Hartley Act place restrictions on these activities. Once unionizing efforts begin, all activities must conform to the requirements established by applicable labor laws. Both management and the union must adhere to those requirements, or the results of the effort can be appealed to the NLRB and overturned. Election Process If an election is held, the union needs to receive only a majority of the votes. Typically, the smaller the number of employees in the bargaining unit, the higher the likelihood that the union will win. If either side believes that the other side used unfair labor practices, the election results can be appealed to the NLRB. If the NLRB finds evidence of unfair practices, it can order a new election. If no unfair practices were used and the union obtains a majority in the election, the union then petitions the NLRB for certification. D. Certification and Decertification Official certification of a union as the legal representative for designated private-sector employees is given by the NLRB, or for public-sector employees by an equivalent body. Once certified, the union attempts to negotiate a contract with the employer. The employer must bargain; refusing to bargain with a certified union constitutes an unfair labor practice. When members no longer wish to be represented by the union, they can use the election process to sever the relationship between themselves and the union. Similar to the unionization process, decertification is a process whereby a union is removed as the representative of a group of employees. Employees attempting to oust a union must obtain decertification authorization cards signed by at least 30% of the employees in the bargaining unit before an election may be called. If a majority of those voting in the election want to remove the union, the decertification effort succeeds. E. Contract Negotiation (Collective Bargaining) Collective bargaining, the last step in unionization, is the process whereby representatives of management and workers negotiate over wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment. This give-and-take process between representatives of the two organizations attempts to establish conditions beneficial to both. It is also a relationship based on relative power. VI. Collective Bargaining Issues A number of issues can be addressed during collective bargaining. Although not often listed as such in the contract, management rights and union security are two important issues subject to collective bargaining. A. Management Rights Virtually all labor contracts include management rights, which are rights reserved so that the employer can manage, direct, and control its business. By including such a provision, management attempts to preserve its unilateral right to make changes in areas not identified in a labor contract. B. Union Security A major concern of union representatives when bargaining is the negotiation of union security provisions, which are contract clauses to help the union obtain and retain members. One type of union security clause in labor contracts is the no-layoff policy, or job security guarantee. Such a provision is especially important to many union workers because of all the mergers, downsizings, and job reductions taking place in many industrial, textile, and manufacturing firms. Union Dues Issues A common union security provision is the dues checkoff clause, which provides for the automatic deduction of union dues from the payroll checks of union members. The dues checkoff provision makes it much easier for the union to collect its funds, and without it, the union must collect dues by billing each member separately. Types of Required Union Membership Another form of union security provision is requiring union membership of all employees, subject to state right-to-work laws. This “closed shop” is illegal except in limited situations within the construction industry. But other types of arrangements can be developed. C. Classification of Bargaining Issues The NLRB has defined collective bargaining issues in three ways. The categories it has used are mandatory, permissive, and illegal. Mandatory Issues Issues identified specifically by labor laws or court decisions as subject to bargaining are mandatory issues. If either party demands that issues in this category be subject to bargaining, then that must occur. Generally, mandatory issues relate to wages, benefits, nature of jobs, and other work-related subjects. Mandatory subjects for bargaining include the following: Discharge of employees Grievances Work schedules Union security and dues check off Retirement and pension coverage Vacations and time off Rest and lunch-break rules Safety rules Profit-sharing plans Required physical exam Permissive Issues Issues that are not mandatory and that relate to certain jobs are permissive issues. For example, the following issues can be bargained over if both parties agree: Benefits for retired employees Product prices for employees Performance bonds Illegal Issues A final category, illegal issues, includes those issues that would require either party to take illegal action. Examples would be giving preference to union members when hiring employees or demanding a closed-shop provision in the contract. If one side wants to bargain over an illegal issue, the other side can refuse. VII. Collective Bargaining Process The collective bargaining process involved in negotiating a contract consists of four possible stages—preparation and initial demands, negotiations, settlement or impasse, and strikes and lockouts. Throughout the process, management and labor deal with the terms of their relationship. A. Preparation and Initial Demands Employer and industry data concerning wages, benefits, working conditions, management and union rights, productivity, and absenteeism are gathered. If the organization argues that it cannot afford to pay what the union is asking, the employer’s financial situation and accompanying data become relevant to the process. However, the union must request such information before the employer is obligated to provide it. Typical bargaining includes initial proposals of expectations by both sides. Core Bargaining Issues The primary focus of bargaining for both union and management is on the core areas of wages, benefits, and working hours and conditions. The importance of this emphasis is seen in several ways. Union wages and benefits generally are higher in unionized firms than in nonunionized firms. B. Continuing Negotiations After taking initial positions, each side attempts to determine what the other side values highly so that the best bargain can be struck. Provisions in federal law require that both employers and union bargaining representatives negotiate in good faith. In good-faith negotiations, the parties agree to send negotiators who can bargain and make decisions, rather than people who do not have the authority to commit either group to a decision. To be more effective, meetings between the parties should be conducted professionally and address issues, rather than being confrontational. Refusing to bargain, scheduling meetings at absurdly inconvenient hours and using other conflicting tactics may lead to employers or unions filing complaints with the NLRB. C. Settlement and Contract Agreement After reaching an initial agreement, the bargaining parties usually return to their respective constituencies to determine if the informal agreement is acceptable. A particularly crucial stage is ratification of the labor agreement, which occurs when union members vote to accept the terms of a negotiated labor agreement. Before ratification, the union negotiating team explains the agreement to the union members and presents it for a vote. If the members approve the agreement, it is considered ratified and is then formalized into a contract. Figure 10-6 lists the typical items in a labor agreement. D. Bargaining Impasse Regardless of the structure of the bargaining process, labor and management do not always reach agreement on the issues. If they reach an impasse, then the disputes can be taken to conciliation, mediation, or arbitration. Conciliation and Mediation When an impasse occurs, an outside party such as the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service may help the two deadlocked parties to continue negotiations and arrive at a solution. In conciliation, the third party assists union and management negotiators to reach a voluntary settlement, but makes no proposals for solutions. In mediation, the third party may suggest ideas for solutions to help the negotiators reach a settlement. In conciliation and mediation, the third party does not attempt to impose a solution. Sometimes fact finding helps to clarify the issues of disagreement as an intermediate step between mediation and arbitration. Arbitration In arbitration, a neutral third party makes a decision. Arbitration can be conducted by an individual or a panel of individuals. “Interest” arbitration attempts to solve bargaining impasses, primarily in the public sector. This type of arbitration is not frequently used in the private sector because companies generally do not want an outside party making decisions about their rights, wages, benefits, and other issues. Fortunately, in many situations, agreements are reached through negotiations without the need for arbitration. When disagreements continue, strikes or lockouts may occur. E. Strikes, Lockouts, and Other Tactics If a deadlock cannot be resolved, an employer may revert to a lockout or a union may revert to a strike. During a strike, union members put pressure on an employer by refusing to work. Often, the striking union members picket or demonstrate against the employer outside the place of business by carrying placards and signs. In a lockout, management shuts down company operations to prevent union members from working. This action may avert possible damage or sabotage to company facilities or injury to employees who continue to work. It also gives management leverage in negotiations. VIII. Union/Management Cooperation The adversarial relationship that naturally exists between unions and management may lead to strikes and lockouts. However, such conflicts today are relatively rare. Even more encouraging is the recognition on the part of some union leaders and employer representatives that cooperation between management and labor unions offers a useful route if organizations are to compete effectively in a global economy. During the past decade, firms have engaged in organizational and workplace restructuring in response to competitive pressures in their industries. Restructurings have had significant effects, such as lost jobs, changed work rules, and altered job responsibilities. When restructurings occur, unions can take different approaches, ranging from resistance to cooperation. When unions have been able to obtain information and share that information with their members in order to work constructively with the company management at various levels, then organizational restructurings have been handled more successfully. A. Employee Involvement Programs It seems somewhat illogical to suggest that union/management cooperation or involving employees in making suggestions and decisions could be bad, and yet some decisions by the NLRB appear to have done just that. In the 1930s, when the Wagner Act was written, certain employers would form sham company unions, coercing workers into joining them in order to keep legitimate unions from organizing the employees. As a result, the Wagner Act contained prohibitions against employer-dominated labor organizations. These prohibitions were enforced, and company unions disappeared. But the use of employee-involvement programs in organizations today has raised new concerns along these lines. Because of the Wagner Act, employee-involvement programs set up in past years may be illegal, according to an NLRB decision. Federal court decisions have upheld the NLRB position in some cases and reversed it in others. One key to decisions allowing employee-involvement committees and programs seems to be that these entities should not deal directly with traditional collective bargaining issues such as wages, hours, and working conditions. Other keys are that the committees should be composed primarily of workers and that they have broad authority to make operational suggestions and decisions. B. Unions and Employee Ownership Unions in some situations have encouraged workers to become partial or complete owners of the companies that employ them. These efforts were spurred by concerns that firms were preparing to shut down, merge, or be bought out. Such results were likely to cut the number of union jobs and workers. Employee stock ownership plans for union members have even become popular. Such programs have been successful in some situations because members have purchased all or part of an organization. However, such programs might undermine union support by creating a closer identification with the concerns and goals of employers, instead of union solidarity. IX. Grievance Management Employee dissatisfaction is a potential source of trouble for employers, whether it is expressed or not. Hidden dissatisfaction grows and creates reactions that may be completely out of proportion to the original concerns. Therefore, it is important that dissatisfaction be given an outlet. A complaint, which is merely an indication of employee dissatisfaction, is one outlet. If an employee is represented by a union, and the employee submits the complaint in writing, then the complaint becomes a grievance. A grievance is a complaint formally stated in writing whether or not a union is involved. A. Grievance Responsibilities The typical division of responsibilities between the HR unit and operating managers for handling grievances is shown in Figure 10-7. These responsibilities vary considerably from one organization to another, even between unionized firms. B. Grievance Procedures Grievance procedures are specific communication channels that are used to resolve grievances between employees and employers. Many times, first-line supervisors are usually closest to a problem and should be one the primary problem solvers in employee-grievance cases. However, supervisors can be distracted by other work matters and may even be the subject of an employee’s grievance. Consequently, grievances need to be handled with a specified resolution approach so that problems are appropriately resolved. Union Representation in Grievance Procedures A unionized employee generally has a right to union representation if the employee is being questioned by management and if discipline may result. If these so-called Weingarten rights (named after the court case that established them) are violated and the employee is dismissed, the employee usually will be reinstated with back pay. C. Steps in a Grievance Procedure Grievance procedures can vary in the steps included. A typical grievance procedure consists of the following steps: The employee discusses the grievance with the union steward (the representative of the union on the job) and the supervisor. The union steward discusses the grievance with the supervisor’s manager and/or the HR manager. A committee of union officers discusses the grievance with appropriate company managers. The representative of the national union discusses the grievance with designated company executives or the corporate industrial relations officer. If the grievance is not solved at this stage, it goes to arbitration. An impartial third party may ultimately dispose of the grievance. Grievance arbitration is a means by which a third party settles disputes arising from different interpretations of a labor contract. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that grievance arbitration decisions issued under labor contract provisions are enforceable and generally may not go to court to be changed. Grievance arbitration includes many topic areas, with discipline and discharge, safety and health, and security being common concerns. X. Unions in the Global Arena Globalization increases the degree to which there is economic competition among workers, companies, and nations. As such, the ability of a country to remain competitive is often influenced by its union-bargaining arrangements and labor laws. Diverse legal requirements and social mores have created very different situations around the world, so HR professionals should be aware of these variations when operating globally. The percentage of union membership varies significantly from country to country. The highest is in the Scandinavian countries. In some countries, unions either do not exist at all or are relatively weak, or are closely tied to political parties. Some countries require that firms have union or worker representatives on their boards of directors. This practice, called codetermination, is common in European countries. Differences from country to country in how collective bargaining occurs also are quite noticeable. Instructor Manual for Human Resource Management: Essential Perspectives Robert L. Mathis, John Jackson, Sean Valentine 9781305115248

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