The NLRB’s “ambush election rules” – which became effective this Spring – continue to be challenged by business trade groups. See previous blog posts. These groups, however, have yet to persuade a court that the rules violate any laws. What that means is that employers should take precautionary steps to prepare for a union organization effort, rather than waiting for a petition to be filed. If you wait for that petition, you won’t have much time at all (as little as 10-21 days) to effectively communicate with your employees .
What can be done now?
- Training. Your managers/supervisors need to know how to detect union “storm warnings.” They should be aware – and immediately inform higher management – of:
- Employee complaints changing or increasing
- Employees being out of normal areas
- Employees being on premises while “off duty”
- Employees making unusual requests for information and materials concerning job descriptions, pay, benefits, compensation, policies, etc.
- Employees asking unusually aggressive or argumentative questions at group meetings
- Normally talkative and open employees avoiding speaking with managers/supervisors
- Employee group conversations quieting down when managers/supervisors pass by
- Lunchroom, locker room, and bathroom cartoons and graffiti
- Over-qualified job applicants with spotty backgrounds
- Employee complaints being made by groups of individuals
- Strangers on company premises
- Use of unusual technical language by employees
- Communicate now. Educate your employees on the company’s position on unions and unionization now. Make sure your managers/supervisors are maintaining an open door policy with their employees and continue to train them on effective communication.
- Review your policies and practices. Make sure all employment policies and practices are compliant with employment laws and the views of the NLRB.
- Develop campaign materials in advance if any “storm warnings” are detected. You want campaign materials at your fingertips when a petition is filed so you can start campaigning right away.
The future of the NLRB’s new election rules is unknown. But as of right now, they stand, and employers need to be prepared.