Unions mean more power for workers to bargain for better wages and benefits. For management, however, a union means less power and control. As a result, many employers tend to resort to both subtle and drastic measures to keep workers from speaking out. When workers stick together they can overcome management’s tactics and, in the end, make a better place to work for everyone.
Many employers respect workers’ rights and basic freedom to choose when it comes to union representation but sometimes they try to get in the way. It is important for you to know that you might encounter an employer that may attempt to coerce, manipulate, bribe, or even threaten you.
Some companies that feel threatened by the idea of their workers being represented by a union sometimes resort to various tactics in order to keep you from organizing. These include love tactics and scare tactics that, while opposite in their approach, can both have equally damaging effect for workers trying to gain an independent voice at work.
Employers may admit to making mistakes assuring that those mistakes will be remedied and will never occur again. Management may send out "love letters," which formally apologize for any wrong doings in the past and make promises for a better future.
Your company may implement temporary changes or improvements in reaction to a union organizing campaign. These changes rarely last beyond the campaign because the employer has no reason to uphold them when the threat of a union goes away. Your employer is free to make these changes after your store votes for or against union representation, but it is illegal for the employer to interfere with the campaign.
The attitude of your employer towards you and your fellow workers might dramatically improve. Management is suddenly very concerned with showing you how much they appreciate and respect you as a member of the company. Activities, such as lunches, dinners and picnics, are organized for workers and their families – activities that did not exist before the union began the organizing campaign.
Management wants you to believe that workers coming together in a union have little power and that, should the workplace become unionized, management won’t bargain with the workers or comply with the workers’ contract. What management doesn’t want you to know is that, by federal law, they must cooperate when workers form a union.
It is against the law to threaten your benefits as punishment for supporting a union.
Management may pressure your supervisors to subtly, or not so subtly, spread anti-union messages around your store. Many times, supervisors will use their personal relationships with employees to manipulate and harass. Again, under federal law, management is not allowed to promote, recruit, or fund any form of anti-union committee.
Management might organize a mandatory meeting in order to spread an anti-union message throughout your workplace, emphasizing that the company is a family and should stand united against the union. It is not unusual for anti-union videos and other forms of propaganda to be shown at these meetings.
Management may get so desperate that they hire highly paid union-busting consultants. These people are paid to keep workers from forming a union at any cost. Many times, employers pay these people as much as, or more than, it would cost to make workplace improvements that would benefit workers.
The reality of strikes is that it’s your choice. Unions will examine all other alternatives before a strike is deemed necessary. Statistically, less than 1% of thousands of UFCW negotiated contracts end in strikes. Only members can decide to strike.
Your employer may attempt to frighten you with talk about all the money you will pay if you form a union. However, these claims are false. When workers come together to form a union at their workplace, they aren’t required to pay any of the costs associated with it. You will pay dues only when you have a contract. But dues bring large rewards in pay raises, benefits, job security, representation and working conditions. The added pay and benefits workers receive through belonging to the union are much more than the cost of union dues. The dues go to pay for organizers, legal assistance, support staff, rent, materials, etc. which are all needed to maintain good contracts and adequate representation. No one pays dues until the workers have voted to accept a contract.
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