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Happy Trails LLC, Case Study Example

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Words: 1121

Case Study

Happy Trail’s took steps to reduce operating costs in order to become more competitive, thus, it is natural that the organization’s management would not like the idea of unionization of its Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) which will increase the organization’s wage expenses. But instead of outright opposing unionization which may lead to confrontational relationship with the LPSs, the management should increase communication with the LPNs to persuade them that the costs of unionization outweigh any expected benefits.

If the management adopts aggressive and confrontational attitude, it will hurt the organizational in several ways. First of all, it may lead to lower productivity by the LPNs as a result of strained relationship with the management which could hurt Happy Trail’s reputation for quality services. The conflict will increase stress among both the management and the LPNs and may even result in some LPNs leaving to join the competitor organizations (Jones). It is also possible that the confrontation may even persuade those LPNs to support unionization who didn’t have any intention in the first place. By creating distance between themselves and the LPNs, the management may make it even easier for unions to get LPNs on their side.

When there is a threat of unionization, communication rather than confrontation is also important because unions usually need petitions from only 30 percent of the employees because they can request an election (Thomas & Associates). Thus, a confrontational behavior by the management will play into the hands of the union and will make it easier for them to gain the support of at least 30 percent employees to hold an election.

The hospital management can make use of several arguments and defenses to discourage unionization of LPNs. First of all, the management could argue that the compensation and benefits of LPNs at Happy Trails are competitive by industry standards. The management could also demonstrate through data and examples as to how unionization hurts both the company and the employees in the long run. The management could also cite political activities of the unions that are employed by union leaders to improve their stature at the expense of the members’ interests such as prolonged and often unsuccessful strikes.

The management may also remind LPNs that union membership doesn’t come free and may significantly exceed the basic membership fees due to other dues and fines and then there are indirect costs such as lost pay due to strikes. The management may also better educate LPNs who may have poor understanding of unions and may simply be responding to the actions followed by LPNs at other organizations. The management could also lend credibility to itself through real union stories, even personal ones, that help demonstrate the high costs of unions to both the companies and the employees (HR Specialist).

The management could also use this opportunity to do research on LPNs job satisfaction rates as well as their major complaints so that steps could be taken to improve employees’ loyalty to the organization and decrease their motivation to pursue unionization of the company. Similarly, the company could also do a comprehensive research on the union internally or hire outside research services to better understand union’s history. Such a research may help the management learn about instances in which the union failed to protect the interests of its members and use the information to discourage LPNs from pursuing unionization.  The management may also do research as to why the employees at other organizations have joined the union and use the information to bolster its case. It is possible that the management may find that the employees at other organizations were being paid less than the LPNs at Happy Trails or they had other job related issues that do not exist within the company.

If the company decides to resist unionization, there are several strategies available to it. First of all, it can try to persuade the LPNs not to pursue unionization. The company should also ensure that it is knowledgeable on labor laws or it can always hire outside legal counsel. The company also has a right to prevent unionization-related activities from interfering in its day-to-day operations.

Unions usually need signs on union cards from 30 percent of the employees before it can request National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to hold an election. Thus, the company should do its best to address major LPNs complaints on a priority basis to prevent union from succeeding in holding an election. If the union does succeed in organizing the election, the company still has time to address LPNs concerns and improve relationship while an NLRB representative addresses both the company’s and the union’s concerns. The company’s management should also directly communicate with the LPNs rather than through the HR Department. The management could also use the communication to further educate employees about the potential consequences of joining a union (Thomas & Associates).

No amount of preparation can guarantee success, thus, the management should be prepared for the possibility of union succeeding in holding the election. In such a scenario, the management should continue to assess the situation closely as well as modify its strategy accordingly to maintain or gain LPNs goodwill (Thomas & Associates).

The management should avoid certain unfair labor practices to protect itself from potential lawsuits by LPNs or government prosecution. First of all, the management should not discriminate against certain LPNs just because they are suspected of participating in union activities or may be persuading others to pursue unionization of the company. Any discrimination on the basis of suspected involvement with union activities will be a violation of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and the Taft-Hartley Act. Similarly, the management cannot offer rewards or incentives that are tied to LPNs not joining the union. The management cannot also interrogate any LPN concerning union-related activities (HR Specialist).

Even though the management has the right to prevent union-related activities from interfering in day-to-day regular operations, the management cannot prohibit LPNs from engaging in union-related activities during nonworking hours or even breaks. The management cannot also prevent LPNs from wearing union insignia on shorts and jackets. The LPNs also have legal protection against the management’s attempt to spy on them to determine their employees’ on unionization (HR Specialist). The management cannot also threaten the LPNs that it may close the facility if LPNs get unionized (National Labor Relations Board). Similarly, the management cannot also prevent the union from soliciting to the LPNs (LaMance).

References

HR Specialist. Unions in the spotlight: What employers can and can’t do. 30 November 2012 <http://www.thehrspecialist.com/article.aspx?articleid=36119>.

Jones, Kasey. The Disadvantages of Conflict in an Organization. 30 November 2012 <http://www.ehow.com/list_6514167_disadvantages-conflict-organization.html>.

LaMance, Ken. Employers’ Rights and Unions. 1 June 2012. 30 November 2012 <http://www.legalmatch.com/law-library/article/employers-rights-and-unions.html>.

National Labor Relations Board. Employer/Union Rights and Obligations. 30 November 2012 <https://www.nlrb.gov/rights-we-protect/employerunion-rights-obligations>.

Thomas & Associates. Avoiding Unions. 30 November 2012 <http://www.employersattorneys.com/employment-law/California-employer-how-to-avoid-unions.html>.

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