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Are We Keeping Unions In the Friend Zone?


I am pleased to post my recent article on unions for Fortune/CNN:  http://management.fortune.cnn.com/2012/07/19/unions-public-sector/?iid=SF_F_River

The article provides an overview of some of the reasons for the deep decline in unionization.  But be careful of complacency; management complacency is the union organizer's best friend. 

While unions will try to sell their service wherever there are willing buyers, we have seen an increase in union activity in health care and retail, among other industries.

We are here if you need help in developing a strategic plan to minimize the risk that you will be targeted and respond rapidly if you are.

Thank you

Jonathan

This blog should not be construed as legal advice, as pertaining to specific factual situations or as establishing an attorney-client relationship

 
 
 
 

THE NLRB AND BOEING: THE LIFE AND DEATH CONSEQUENCES


For the first time I can recall, the NLRB is being talked about as part of the election campaign. No NLRB case is talked about more than Boeing.

In Boeing, the Company had a plant in Washington that had capacity.  Rather than using that capacity for new work, Boeing decided to build a new plant in South Carolina and do the work there.

A Boeing official talked about the risks in having a strike every 3 years as part of decision making process.  The NLRB seized upon that comment and sued Boeing for unlawful retaliation against the union for striking.

The comment by the Boeing official appears to have been take out of context.  Boeing has made clear that other factors, such as lower taxes and incentives from South Carolina, were key to its decision making process.

The law is clear that an employer cannot move work from one site to another to punish employees for exercising their right to strike.  In the Boeing case, there was no loss of work at the union plant.  It was simply a question of where to put the new work to best get it done.

Yet, the General Counsel issued a complaint against Boeing. What are the implications?

Consider the following example in health care.

A hospital has two campuses:  one union and one not.  Assume there have been strikes at the union campus.  During these strikes, there have  been struggles with the delivery of patient care.  Plus, independent of the strikes, the union facility is less productive based on objective criteria.

Assume further, the hospital has decided to build a new center to deal with pediatric cancer.  It chooses the non-union campus because it is more productive and it has had no issues with the delivery of patient care.

No work is lost at the union site.  And the union can try organize the non-union site.  But the NLRB’s “logic” in the Boeing case would suggest that the hospital may have acted unlawfully to the extent any concerns about patient care relate to potential interruptions due to a strike.

Is the NLRB suggesting that the union’s right to get new members (without any work) trumps the hospital’s right to minimize the risk to pediatric cancer patients by picking the location that is the most stable and productive?

The Boeing complaint is not only about management rights.  In health care, it can have life and death consequences.

THIS BLOG SHOULD NOT BE CONSTRUED AS LEGAL ADVICE, AS ESTABLISHING AN ATTORNEY CLIENT RELATIONSHIP OR AS APPLYING TO SPECIFIC FACTUAL SITUATIONS

 
 
 
 
 

Jonathan Segal

Business Ally. Help clients achieve business goals and manage legal risks. Areas of focus include: gender equality; wage and hour compliance; social media; leadership training; union avoidance; performance management; and agreements

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The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author and are not to be construed as legal advice.