As we kickoff a new year, there’s some serious issues on the table that may have a significant impact on our industry. Issues like healthcare reform, PCI compliance standards and the Employee Free Choice Act, otherwise referred to as Card Check.
Healthcare reform is center stage and has captured everyone’s attention as you would expect. PCI compliance standards are close behind with its July 2010 compliance date. Card Check is looming on the horizon and you don’t want to take your eyes off this one since it could be a game changer. A combination one-two punch of healthcare reform, projected at an 8 percent increase of payroll coupled with unionized store employees could be devastating.
The Employee Free Choice Act of 2009 (H. R. 1409) was introduced into Congress in March of 2009 and was quickly referred to subcommittee in April. The actual language of the bill is as follows:
To amend the National Labor Relations Act to establish an efficient system to enable employees to form, join or assist labor organizations, to provide for mandatory injunctions for unfair labor practices during efforts and for other purposes.
Imagine what life would be like if all your stores were unionized!
Here are three of the factors that can make an organization vulnerable to a possible union-organizing campaign.
1. Noncompetitive wages and benefits. Unions contend that they can secure higher wages and more benefits for their members through their collective bargaining power. On average, union members earn more paid vacation and sick leave, pay lower medical premiums and are guaranteed wage increases. Organizations need to maintain competitive wages and benefits to meet market demands and ensure salary reviews and adjustments are conducted annually. This is especially important when comparing organizations within a specific industry or profession.
2. Unsafe working conditions. Workplace safety has historically been a focal point for unions because many organizations tend to ignore or overlook basic workplace safety. Unions have been successful in negotiating extended breaks and requiring additional safety training, which results in a decrease in workplace accidents. Employees expect to work in a safe work environment. Organizations that foster such an environment will enjoy a more productive workforce and reduce their liability stemming from OSHA violations.
3. Lack of job security. Because of the changing dynamics in the economy and technology, organizations do not typically employ workers for their entire career, and there is no incentive to train workers who may be laid off or quit. Union members generally have more job security than their non-union counterparts, as unions often negotiate contract provisions that deter organizations from reducing hours, laying off employees or disciplining employees without just cause. Additionally, grievance procedures give workers a process to appeal a termination. In many states, non-union employees are considered “at will,” and they don’t have any formal options or recourse unless they were terminated for illegal discrimination.
Of course, other factors can influence union-organizing activity, but the main reason organizing occurs is poor management practices. It is natural for workers to see how their wages, benefits, etc. measure up to those of their peers in any profession or industry. Managers must think of ways to show their employees that they care about them and to listen to their concerns.
I’m all too familiar with unions attempting to unionize convenience stores. Back in 1989 while I was employed at Mobil Oil there was an attempt to unionize our company operated stores along I-95 in Massachusetts in addition to the Merritt Parkway in Connecticut. The union posed a serious challenge. They were well organized, resourceful, creative and persuasive in their message. In took a great deal of time, planning, and strategizing but in the end worth it since we defeated the union’s attempts (and there were many!).
If I can be of assistance to you and your organization in this matter, you can contact me at 910.458.5227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.