Unions plan new strategies for recruitment
Jul 1, 2003 12:00 PM
“THINGS are changing — not only in what they do, but how they do it.” That was the message from Brian Easley of Jones Day law firm, about the current recruitment practices of the Teamsters and other unions active in the trucking industry.
Membership in the unions has been on a skid for several years. About 8.5 percent of US companies are represented by unions today, which has prompted union organizers to increase recruitment efforts, Easley said.
This year, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters kicked off a $60-million effort to recruit new members, promising to make the appropriation an annual amount, he said.
In addition to funding, unions are changing the face of their recruiters — selecting more women, minorities, and college students — a change from the former all-male, white, and blue-collar workers that were the original recruiters. Strategies are being used to avoid an employee election that determines the workforce decision to unionize. They are attempting to add a stipulation to contacts that all new facilities will be in the contract. Added to that are attempts by union members to acquire jobs in companies with the goal of organizing those employees, he said.
But more than recruiting directly, unions are instituting campaigns to put-pressure on employers by picketing their customers, presenting protests to union governing boards, and filing frivolous class-action lawsuits that claim discrimination.
Easley pointed out that employers are forbidden by law to prevent employees from joining unions, but can develop programs that present their views of a union-free workplace.
He recommended that companies establish practices that recognize employee accomplishments and publish newsletters that keep them apprised of company operations. Supervisors should be trained to explain the benefits of a union-free workplace so they can present the company's view to other employees.
“Be sure that employee policies are fair and legal,” Easley said.
He advised employers to seek legal advice when needed, particularly when confronted with union attempts at organizing and before signing contracts.
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