President Biden recently signed an Executive Order intended to expand union organizing and collective bargaining. The Executive Order’s impact will not be felt in the near-term as input and recommendations are not due for 180 days; however, the intent is clear – it is the Federal government’s desire to expand both unions and collective bargaining across industries, sectors, and into Right to Work states.
The Executive Order cites the 1935 National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) as the basis for the Executive Order which indicates the Federal government encourages unionization and collective bargaining. By default, the next step will be to incorporate the 1979 Civil Service Reform Act (CSRA) which allowed Federal sector employees to actively bargain vice merely consult. Combined, the two will cover the spectrum of the American labor force.
The NLRA and the CSRA are built upon an adversarial model between management and union. Collective Bargaining Agreements typically have built-in stylized grievance procedures that culminate with external arbitrators making decisions that govern the organization. Disagreements with arbitrator decisions can end up in the court system. New staff and skill sets may be required for many organizations.
Organizations would do well to begin assessing their work climate and mode of leadership beginning today to gain insight into the overall employee experience. This baseline will be necessary for many that have never been burdened with union efforts to organize or who have never had to engage in subsequent collective bargaining. Life is about to change dramatically for many in leadership.
A critical piece in avoiding union efforts is to ensure organizational leadership is well versed in effective leadership techniques that negate the desire or need for unionization hence the baseline review recommended above. Leadership effectiveness should be the organization’s measure of success.
A third area to consider if you anticipate unionization is how your compensation is set as compared to how revenue is supposed to be generated per employee or how much service output per hour is expected. In CRE’s experience many in leadership do not see this linkage and can not articulate or defend against union demands: What does a minute of time cost and how much revenue should be generated? Pay and benefits will be the first order of business if your organization ends up with a newly established union. Understand this compensation-revenue generation linkage and be prepared to link any new pay article in a collective bargaining agreement to results. This will typically be hard bargaining.
A fourth area to consider, and it is unpalatable to many, is to consider using the construction industry model for work, i.e., the union becomes responsible for ensuring certified and competent employees arrive at work each day. If your organization ends up legally bound to bargain be creative to shift the burden to the union wherever possible.
CRE is well versed in Labor Relations with facilitation, fact-finding, bargaining, mediation, arbitration advocacy, and Unfair Labor Practice skills within its portfolio. Strategy and Advisory Services are its norm.
Be proactive. Begin preparations now.