Unions and You

The Employers Handbook

Fear of the unknown can scare and intimidate many workers. Knowing what to expect from your employer and supervisors will reduce the amount of fear workers have during organizing campaigns.

This section was developed combining the printed materials handed out by employers to their supervisors. It was written by lawyers to keep unions out.

You can expect any or all of these tactics to be used against you and your co-workers should you choose to bring the Machinists Union into your facility.

We hope to prepare you for what the company has planned for you.


Reasons Workers Organize

Mistreatment by Supervisors is one of the major reasons workers organize; supervisors must be re-educated in order to keep the union out. The following list of reasons why workers organize must be addressed. If your supervisors are guilty of these infractions they must change their ways.

  • Mistreatment of workers by supervisors.
  • Disrespectful, discourteous, and inconsiderate treatment from supervisors.
  • The inability to listen when workers speak.
  • The lack of sensitivity to work place problems.
  • Unwillingness to represent workers when they are right.
  • The inability to motivate workers.
  • Lack of sympathy for workers personal problems.
  • Lack of supervisory training.

Inconsistent Company Policies and Practices

Workers Organize when:

  • Company polices are not clear and understandable.
  • Supervisors are inconsistent in regards to non-discriminatory work practices.
  • Workers are unclear in respect to work schedules, time-off, work assignments, pay cuts, or any other changes.
  • Supervisors lack fair, consistent and tactful disciplinary procedures.
  • Low wages – Poor Benefits – Poor Retirement benefits.

Supervisors Cannot:

  • Make Threats — That there will be a strike – You will lose your job because of the union – If the union gets in here, the company is going to move – The company will never sign with the union – The company will retaliate against everyone who signs with the union – You will never get another promotion. That doesn’t mean these things cant be explained as possibilities.
  • Interrogations — Don’t ask how an employee feels or intends to vote on the Union question. Do not put them in a position where he must tell you his/her feelings. Do not ask who is going to or who attended a union meeting. Do not ask who signed the authorization card.
  • Promises — Do not promise any employee a raise to vote no, do not promise any benefit to an employee. It will be construed as an attempt to buy his vote.
  • Surveillance — You cannot attend union meetings. You cannot park your car or drive by union meeting halls. You cannot follow Union organizers. Do not spy on Union meetings or conversations

Supervisors must change bad habits and:

  • Reopen lines of communication
  • Realize that the he or she is responsible for the unions success or failure.
  • Participate in two way conversations
  • Recognize that there are problems in every group of employees
  • Bring problems to the attention of the company – write them down
  • Solve problems either by explaining the policy or correct the problem.
  • Find out how an employee feels about the company
  • Sell the company benefits
  • Make it easy for employees to approach you
  • Learn about employees backgrounds and relationships
  • Promote qualified employees – point out weaknesses so employee can change attitude
  • Discipline evenhandedly – avoid favoritism
  • Recognize employee discontent as an opportunity to eliminate problems
  • Cultivate anti-union sentiment among employees
  • Don’t waste your time on the diehards. They probably can’t be convinced.
  • Be sure to talk with all employees about the union two or three times a week.
  • Write down comments or questions you hear from your employees.
  • If you don’t know the answers say so, then get back to them.
  • The company has nothing to hide our doors are always open.
  • Make your position clear, don’t be wishy-washy about it.
  • Try and get all union handouts, you need to be able to respond
  • When handing out company material encourage employees to talk about it.
  • You can’t say “If the union gets in here we’ll close the plant” That would be illegal.
  • But there are other ways to deliver the same message
  • The use of fear is just as appropriate with your employees as it is with your three year old.

Statements Supervisors could make to distract workers away from the union:

  • The company can’t promise you anything because the Union would claim we were trying to bribe your vote
  • We hear you and we promise to change.
  • Give us a second chance.
  • We were planning to improve conditions before the union came.
  • We have good wages and benefits
  • You could get more negotiating for yourself
  • Things could get worse
  • The union can only get more for you if the company agrees to it
  • If we go union I won’t be able to talk with you.
  • You give up your rights as an individual to deal directly with your supervisor.
  • The shop steward will decide if your problems are discussed with the company.
  • Do you want the union diehards to speak for you.
  • We can work our problems out among ourselves.
  • I’d rather talk with you than some outsider who doesn’t understand us.
  • If we go union I can’t negotiate with you directly.
  • I can’t promise you anything, the union will say it’s a bribe.
  • Shift the focus away from your company profits and shift it towards the union.
  • Make the union an outsider

Captive Audience Meetings

  • During a union organizing campaign, your single greatest advantage over the union is the ability to legally hold meetings with employees during regular work hours while they are being paid.
  • Unions cannot compel employees to attend meetings. When employers effectively exploit the captive audience meeting advantage the win rate for employers increase substantially.
  • Bring in the BIG BOSSES, nothing intimidates employees more than the Owner or President asking for a second chance.

Most Important Issues:

  • Union Dues & Initiations – no one likes to pay for anything
  • The Union can make you go on strike
  • Negotiations are give and take.
  • The Union can promise anything but the company must agree
  • Give Us A Second Chance.
  • Challenge everything the union says.
  • Portray Union Representatives as untrustworthy.
  • Beg
  • Grovel
  • Cry
  • Do anything to sway emotions
  • You can always get even for this humiliation if you win