Unions Adapt to Right to Work Laws to Increase Membership

The United States now has more right to work than compulsory unionism states. In right to work states, employees are not forced to be in a union just to work at a union company. Employees, instead, choose whether to join the union and pay union dues or not pay union dues. Regardless of their decision, if the company is unionized, the union represents everyone – even those who do not pay dues. This has proved challenging to union organizers whose job is to increase revenue through dues paying members.

I recently stumbled upon some of the playbook organizers use in right to work states to increase dues.

  1. Fight the Boss

One key to surviving right to work is to do the essentials that unionists should be doing anyway: win grievances. Fight for a good contract. Involve members in regular meetings. Distribute newsletters that report your victories and struggles.

Interesting that the first rule is to create hostility at work. Instead of focusing on positive aspects of employment, the union’s objective is to “Fight the Boss” and flaunt it.

  1. Ask People to Join

Signing up a new member can be as simple as asking your co-worker to join the union: they’re not going to join if no one asks. Remind co-workers of all the ways the union has benefited them personally. Let them know their co-workers don’t appreciate their freeloading.

This assumes the union has benefited the co-worker. What about the co-worker who is not receiving merit pay increases or promotions because of the union contract? Further, is there an implied threat in letting co-workers know you “don’t appreciate their freeloading?”

  1. Make Membership the Union’s Business, Not the Boss’s

Every new employee should be welcomed into the union right away. Push for contract language that allows union leaders to talk with new hires at orientation. To prevent Human Resources from pushing drop-out forms, propose contract language that prohibits the employer from talking with bargaining unit members about union membership. That’s your business, not theirs.

While I’ve seen these clauses before but they don’t stay in a collective bargaining agreement that I’ve negotiated. Orientation is during working hours, and employees are being paid to attend. The Union has the right to talk with employees outside of work.

  1. Track Union Membership

Cross-reference your seniority list to identify those who aren’t paying dues. In your union meetings, include monthly reports on membership where you name the people who are freeloading! This helps to create a culture where it’s not okay to freeload off your co-workers.

So that was an implied threat about freeloaders in No. 2. Here, the union condones bullying co-workers until they become dues paying union members.

Matt Austin who owns Austin Legal, LLC, a boutique law firm based in Ohio that limits its representation to employers dealing with labor, employment, and OSHA matters. You can call Matt at (614) 285-5342 or email him at Matt@MattAustinLaborLaw.com.