What To Expect From Your Employer
Nearly all employers do not want their employees to be union. Think about it: without a union, employers have total control of their employees, with the freedom to punish employees and take benefits as they see fit. With a union, they now need to share power with workers who stand together and agree on their own terms with a contract. From the employer’s perspective, workers who organize a union will cost them more money (in benefits and wages workers have earned), and require they follow a legally-binding contract instead of doing whatever they want, whenever they want.
When your company finds out the workers are interested in organizing a union, they will most likely take at least one of these approaches.
Fear and Intimidation
Usually, when employees show interest in organizing a union, the company immediately responds with an anti-union program. This program ranges widely from company to company, but the core theme is always the same: they will try to scare and intimidate workers to not sign Representation Cards or talk to Union Representatives.
They will often hire professional union-busting firms, paying professionals tens of thousands of dollars to hold mandatory meetings in an attempt to persuade you from organizing. Tens of thousands of dollars they could have invested in you, their own employee.
Warm and Friendly
Conversely, management will try to become your best friend. Often, management who have never said more than “hello” to you will suddenly take interest in your life, your family, and perhaps most importantly, your problems at work. This is so they can offer you quick fixes, like an immediate raise.
Isn’t it a coincidence that they’re suddenly being so nice to you after they found out you’re interested in organizing a union? It’s because they are desperate to dissuade you from union representation.
Preparation Is Key
If you know what to expect from your employer, you’ll see their various tactics for what they are: a desperate, last-ditch effort to crush the power of your unity. Prepare yourself for a battle against misinformation, cherry-picked media, and classic fear tactics.
Anticipating what management will say before they say it will help you stay strong throughout this process.
Here are some classic tricks your management—or their hired consultants—will tell you:
1. “Sure we’ve made mistakes. Just give us one more chance!”
Management will almost always ask you for a second chance. They’ll begin to correct some of the problems you’ve been complaining about for years, and they might even restore certain benefits that were previously taken away.
Don’t be fooled. Without a union contract spelling out exactly what you are entitled to, you can lose everything all over again (or worse) after the union campaign is over.
2. “You have a future with this company.”
Your supervisor may suggest that you will get a promotion or raise if you vote no. Although this is illegal, many people fall for this trick only to realize after the election that they were simply a pawn in the company’s effort to defeat the union.
3. The “Vote No Committee”
The Vote No Committee are employees who are willing to do the company’s dirty work. They will spread lies and misinformation about the union or the people who support the union. These are often people who have fallen for a previous trick.
Union busters often try to divide and conquer the workers by pinning one group against each other, like the “disloyal” union supporters against “loyal, pro-company” union opponents.
4. “We might have to close.”
Management will tell you that your company may close because of the union. The truth is, it is illegal for the company to close or even to threaten to close because the union is voted in.
5. “The union can’t guarantee you anything. You could lose pay and benefits!”
This just doesn’t make any sense, yet employers use it over and over again. Why would a worker, who will negotiate their own contract, vote for a contract that gives them less than what they have now?
Furthermore, it’s actually management who doesn’t guarantee you anything. Workers without a union are at their employer’s mercy; any aspect of your job can change at any time and workers have no say whatsoever.
6. “With a union, you won’t be able to communicate directly with your supervisor.”
Wrong. In fact, most union contracts specify speaking with the supervisor as the first step in conflict resolution. A union contract does not prevent communication in the workplace, it helps increase productive communication by setting ground rules for everyone to follow.
7. “The union is a third party.”
The union is made up of workers coming together to solve problems and make improvements in their workplace. You are part of a team, not a third party.
8. “The union just wants your dues.”
The improvements in wages, benefits, and working conditions that you receive in your union contract are far greater than the cost of dues. Remember: you do not pay any dues until you vote to accept your union contract after you vote YES to the union.
9. “You’ll be forced out on strike.”
Wrong. You and your coworkers are the union, and only you and your coworkers can decide to strike. UFCW Local 152 requires a 2/3 majority vote.
10. “It was nice knowing you.”
If all else fails, the supervisor or other management may be fired. The company will then try to convince you that the old manager was the root cause of all problems and that this new manager will treat you much better. They will ask you to give the new manager a chance before you vote in the union. Why should you?