By Dean Whittaker

Membership in labor unions has long been on the decline. Recently, however, the United Auto Workers union has implemented a unique effort to significantly expand their membership. The process consists of a directive from the Big Three auto companies to their tier-one suppliers to enter into a neutrality agreement with the UAW or risk losing their business.  In exchange for insuring labor peace, the Big Three would “encourage” their suppliers to “allow” their operations to be organized by the UAW.

While on the surface this may sound onerous, the key is the terms of the “neutrality agreement.”  These terms often include the following: 1. management is to read a letter to all employees stating that the company does not oppose the union’s efforts to organize the operation; 2. the company is to provide the UAW with all employees’ home addresses and telephone numbers; and 3. an optional employee signature card can be used instead of an election; and 4. when 51% of the employees have signed cards, the facility will be represented by the UAW. 

Despite the “neutrality agreement,” some companies have organized efforts to educate the workers on the costs as well as the benefits of union representation. The adversarial approach often taken by Union negotiators can significantly impact the collaborative work practices needed to be globally competitive. In addition, the third party role in the process can cause delays, miscommunications, and loss of initiative.

Should you have questions or concerns about this issue, feel free to contact our office.

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