There is so much focus on what employers cannot do during a union organizing drive that what an employer can do is frequently forgotten. The things an employer cannot say and do, while significant, pale in comparison to what an employer is permitted to do during a union organizing campaign.
Employers can state a fact or make an opinion that does not violate TIPS. For example, supervisors can have discussions with employees about the union organizing drive, so long as the supervisor does not ask the employee how she feels about the union or how she will vote in an election.
Accordingly, that supervisor can explain why the employer does not believe union representation is in the best interest of the employee or company, state facts about collective bargaining, discuss how unions can fine employees, the true cost of being in a union, and what it really means to be on strike. Employers should not shy away from discussing unions with their employees, but they should make sure they know the legal boundaries of what they can and cannot say.
Companies facing a union organizing campaign can, and should, hold periodic meetings with groups of employees to discuss the organizing campaign. Employees should be paid for these meetings, and it is not illegal to feed employees during these meetings. When these mandatory meetings are held – and there are rules when they can and cannot be held – management level employees should discuss the company’s union free philosophy and explain what employees can expect during the organizing drive.
For example, employees should continue to report to work on time and work diligently; employees will be excused to vote when the time comes; employees will not be treated any better or worse depending on their union affiliation; and remind employees that regardless whether they signed authorization cards, they are free to vote however they want during the election.
There are many other things that employers can do during a union organizing drive. Each of these things are legal and help companies thwart the drive and win an election. But I know that unions monitor this blog closely, and my clients would kill me if I give away all my secrets.