HR Management & Compliance

What HR Needs to Know About Working with Labor Unions

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics reported that participation in labor unions was down in 2016, especially in the private sector. And the cause for this is due to the ever-increasing responsiveness of human resource (HR) professionals and the positive employee relations they inspire in the modern workplace.unions
However, how HR professionals work with labor unions is still an extremely viable concern in the modern workplace, especially in the wake of the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling of Janus v. American Federation of State, County, And Municipal Employees, Council 31, which ruled that mandatory union fees be banned for public sector employees. And, it won’t be long until the impacts of this decision are felt in all sectors and all states across the country.
Here’s what you need to know about working with labor unions as an HR professional in the 21st century.

HR Concerns and Challenges When Working with Labor Unions

Collective bargaining and organizing. The National Labor Relations Act prevents employers from interfering with their employees’ right to organize, which includes trying to persuade or coerce employees to refrain from organizing or treating pro-union employees differently from those who aren’t union members. But because HR must approach every single employee’s training and working environment the same, issues can inadvertently transpire inside the workplace.
For example, union members can collectively bargain for raises based on tenure, cost of living, etc., and that can interfere with HR’s ability to promote individuals based on exemplary work performance and merit.
Termination policies. Unionized workers must receive “just cause” for termination, and this can lead to a lengthy process for terminating employees who are not performing well or who exhibit disciplinary concerns. So, terminating employees can become expensive and cumbersome in workplaces that are unionized.
Addressing grievances. When employees can air their grievances with HR in a productive environment with a third-party individual present, typically fair negotiations can be reached. However, when employees are collectively bargaining for unreasonable conditions and benefits, or have a biased representative, a lot of time and resources can be wasted, and overall productivity rates will take an earnest hit.
Collecting dues. Usually, union members will elect to have their union dues automatically deducted from their paychecks, and this creates extra work for HR when they’re processing payroll. And it also makes HR managers liable for all union employees’ dues and that they’re processed correctly and submitted on time.
In tomorrow’s post, we’ll highlight additional information you’ll want to know about when working with labor unions as an HR professional, such as the benefits of working with labor unions and some best practices you’ll want to keep in mind.