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Opinion: Employee-rights notices must be posted in spring

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In a few months, private sector employers – both unionized and nonunion – will be required to post the Employee Rights Under the National Labor Relations Act on their premises, as the result of a National Labor Relations Board-issued notice outlining the requirement.

Though government, railroad, airline and agricultural employers are excluded from compliance, other private employers must post the 11-by-17-inch posters no later than April 30, on bulletin boards or via the Internet or company intranet.

The posters, which are available at NLRB.gov/poster, must be in English and in any other languages spoken by at least 20 percent of associates, if they are unable to read and write in English.

The notices state that workers have the right to organize a union; bargain collectively; strike and picket; raise work-related complaints; form, join or assist a union; discuss wages and benefits with co-workers; or choose not to do any of those activities.

The posters also outline examples of illegal company behaviors, such as taking adverse action against staff for participating in union events or asking employees about union support or activities. Also included is information about how to contact NLRB to file charges.

Leaders of nonunion enterprises should not feel threatened by the law. But if there is a reason a company is not unionized and leaders want to stay that way, they might consider several courses of action related to posting the notices.

Prior to posting, company leaders should train managers on proper communication and behaviors required by the NLRA. Include information about what the notice says, what it means and how to respond to employees who indicate a possible desire to organize a union.

When the notice is posted, communicate the company’s stance on unionization. Create and publish a statement in the employee handbook saying why the company wants to stay union-free, and why company leaders feel a union is not needed. Share the information during new employee orientations and routinely reinforce the message with employees.    

Audit human resources polices and procedures to ensure legal compliance pertaining to the NLRA, and develop proactive union prevention policies and practices. Analyze the groups of nonunion associates as potential voting units to ensure you have a chance to win an election.

Make supervisors aware of the signs of union-organizing activities. Be prepared with a prompt and strategic legal action plan.

Other proactive steps officials can take: Determine the corporation’s vulnerability to unionization, and identify and resolve employment issues and key concerns of workers. Are wages and benefits competitive in the marketplace? How do staff members feel about the hours, terms and conditions of employment? Are existing open-door policies actually effective?

Review wages and benefits within the company to determine and rectify any inconsistencies between employees. It is not uncommon for small- and medium-size businesses to have pay disparities between people performing the same or similar jobs. This usually occurs when enterprises are striving to recruit and retain top talent. However, the lower-paid laborers will perceive this as unfair, and disgruntled associates are may seek unionization as an answer.

As the deadline for posting the new NLRB notice approaches, nonunion companies can take proactive measures to minimize the likelihood of union activity if that is the desire of company leaders.

Lynne Haggerman, M.S., is president/owner of Lynne Haggerman & Associates LLC, a Springfield firm specializing in management training, retained search, outplacement and human resource consulting. She can be reached at lynne@lynnehaggerman.com.[[In-content Ad]]

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