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Labor and Employment Law, Essay Example

Pages: 2

Words: 623

Essay

As unions have been a source of debate and conflict since the 19th century, so too are they often still opposed by employers today. One strategy an employer may use is only hiring workers from geographic regions in which unionizing is generally not in place; Honda, for example, has been accused of denying opportunity to thousands of Indiana workers who were employed in union shops scheduled to close (Carrell, Heavrin, 2012, p. 60). Another more common way of discouraging unionization occurs through outsourcing. As technology changes the functions of companies and overseas workforces tend to be less expensive, employers are enabled to counter unions through contracting outsourced labor (Carrell, Heavrin, p. 60). There are other strategies, but the point remains that, traditionally, employers perceive unions as threatening their authority and placing a company’s survival at risk, because they feel workers will make demands economically impossible for the company. This view is understandable but it ignores the greater reality that unionized employees are as invested in the company’s success as are the employers. In a sense, the union is a powerful tool to support the business, and what is necessary is cooperation, rather than conflict, for all concerned to benefit from the organization of the workforce.

Regarding other ways in which employers may suppress unions, they are entitled to poll workers if there is reason to believe that the majority does not support unionizing. This is usually done when the union is in the process of being formed: “An employer that unlawfully refuses to bargain with a union must show that employee disaffection arose after the employer resumed its recognition of the union” (AmericaBar.org, 1998). Historically, this usually creates further conflict, as union representatives often point to employer coercion or other unfair practices as influencing workers to oppose unionizing. Nonetheless, employers are legally entitled to survey workers’ opinions and, if a minority seeks a union, the employer is allowed to present certification of the majority’s resisting it. Essentially, the labor courts determine the right of a union to exist through employee attitudes. Employers fighting unions in place will also conduct polls to determine employee satisfaction with the union (AmericanBar.org) and, when there is evidence of majority discontent, the union may be decertified.

As businesses are individual entities, employers have a wide range of options in dealing with unionization. Under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), an effort to dominate a union is an unfair labor practice (Carrell, Heavrin, p. 161). Other forms of dominating a union, and usually with the intent of eliminating it, go to hiring replacement workers and moving operations to less unionized states. At the same time, even employer “support” may take the form of opposition, as when the employer offers advantages to one union over another (Carrell, Heavrin, p. 176). These unfair practices aside, however, the employer may demonstrate real support through negotiating with the union in good faith.  Domination of a union can only increase conflicts, which must have a negative impact on the entire operations of a business. If the employer genuinely seeks to cooperate with the union, it is more likely that the common result of improving the company’s well-being, through consistent consideration of employee needs, will occur. There are exceptions, of course, and an employer should be aware that some unionizing ignores important company realities. However, mutual trust is the key to promoting a relationship serving the interests of all.

References

AmericanBar.org. (1998). Labor and Employment Law. Retrieved 17 Dec. 2015 from             http://www.americanbar.org/newsletter/publications/gp_solo_magazine_home/

Carrell, M. R., & Heavrin, C. (2010). Labor Relations and Collective Bargaining: Cases,                                                  Practice, and Law, 9th Ed. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall.

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