Role, Merits and Demerits of Union Avoidance Management Consultants
Union avoidance management consultants have been designed to offer solutions that lead to abatement of unions. These consultancy firms do offer services that do vary in a wide spectrum depending on the situation and magnitude of crisis that the unions have posed. Some of the methods seem to be quite straight forward and productivity oriented while some seem to demean or curtail the provision of certain basic human rights. Union avoidance consultants have actually been in existence for some time and this has been supported by various scholars.
In his article, a lawyer observed that it is vitally important that employers view the goal of remaining union free not just as a negative – keeping a union out, but rather as a positive strategy that will result not only in keeping out the union but also produce a more productive and efficient workforce (Russell, 1967). It is upon these basics that the union avoidance management consultants have developed strategies that are tailor made for their clients who include employers in different sectors.
Some of these strategies will be analyzed below. The most basic, straight forward and fast tactics is to ensure that as an employer, you always maintain relatively high salaries for your employees. It has been keenly observed that salary dispute is the main reason why employees form or do join workers’ unions. Salary increase is a sure way of averting any employees from joining the unions. This mode is deemed to be very positive in the short run but also somewhat costly to the employer.
In the long run however, other factors come into play and this is because, from research, wage and salary levels have only played the role of raising an argument of union formation in the midst of other crucial factors like job satisfaction, working hours, incentives etc. In the same article, Russell actually affirms the above by saying that most of unions use “wage increase as a selling point,” (Russell, 1967). Another tactic that is recommended by the union avoidance management consultants is efficient communication systems in the organization.
Inefficient communication systems have been observed to be one of the biggest disconnects between organizations’ management and their employees. Employees should be made aware what is required of them in fulfilling the objectives of the company or organization. This therefore means that the organization therefore needs to put proper structures that identifies specific laid down roles for each and every member or individual in the organization, from the lowest cadres of ranks to the management of the company. This alone cannot be a foundation without establishing an efficient and effective employee relations and communications program.
This will enable employees address issues that do affect them on their day to day work. Through this, the management will be made aware of the grievances and address some if not all of the issues. This kind of strategy will jeopardize any efforts by the employees to form or join workers’ unions. Other policies that would go hand in hand with the above would be the open door policy and this is where the employees have the ability to walk literally into any office to seek solutions or answers to queries that seem to be a bother to them.
This will in turn make employees have the team spirit feeling where their input and presence is highly appreciated hence motivation and productivity is highly improved. In the article magazine labor perspectives, Luis (2005) observed that it is natural that individuals feel better when they are in employment relationships that are stable and secure, and also where their employer treats them with respect and fairness. In fact, nothing will motivate an employee more to go to a union than the belief that he or she is not being treated fairly by the employer.
Union avoidance consultants also stress the importance of the role and effectiveness of the management in the organization that is supposed to offer leadership role for the organization. It is vital to note that a poorly managed company or the organization that has managers who cannot earn the respect of the workers is more prone to instability and union formation than that organization which has low pay and dismal job security.
This is the case because employees feel that the incompetent management cannot adequately address their issues and the leadership vacuum created is therefore filled up by the unions which the workers feel address their concerns. Various consultants provide different solutions to this problem. Some argue that management performance is pegged on organizational systems and redefining these systems will achieve desired results. Some of the systems include communication function as discussed in the earlier tactic.
Others argue that the management personnel require going for retraining and acquiring proper hands on skills required for proper implementation of the job. In their home page Adams, Nash, Haskell & Sheridan, one of the leading labor relations consultants note that employees feel lost and an organization is more vulnerable to union organizing when managers are ineffective and they recommend training for such managers. The last of the methods or tactics proposed by the union avoidance management consultants is elimination of any advances made towards formation or joining workers unions.
Sounds brutal but organizations are advised to formulate policies or laws within the organization that might deter or make it hardly possible for members to join the unions. Although most laws stipulate that it is one’s right to join any union of any kind provided that it is registered, the organization can counter this by providing the union free members extra incentives for their work. The organization can also embark on a ‘blackmail’ process whereby they do inform the workers of the huge disadvantages that the unions do pose.
Among these disadvantages would be the contributions that the members who are workers are supposed to pay. The organization will embark on explaining to the members how they stand to lose most of their earnings through these ‘dubious’ unions that are only present to benefit from their earnings. The organization will also further explain why joining such is a threat to their jobs. Due to union formation, lots of productive time will be wasted in negotiations and strikes that would have been brought along.
The workers should be made aware that they do form part of the organization and they do own the vision of the organization in fulfilling their objectives and therefore no attempts should be made to jeopardize that. This kind of approach will therefore lead to a union free organization. All the above tactics however do differ with Martin Jay Levitt’s concepts to a far greater extent. Martin in his book ‘confessions of a union buster’ does explain the methods and modes that he employed to eliminate the threat of a union being formed.
In his book, he does explain how he executed union busting techniques in over 250 companies that spanned from coal mines, factories, airlines even to nursing homes. The book establishes that “he routinely spied into the police records, personnel files, credit histories, medical records and family lives of union activists in efforts to discredit them,” (Martin, 1993). It seems from the information given above that Martins’ ways seem to be quite brutal and unorthodox.
Methods that were suggested by union avoidance management consultants comprised of very legitimate methods. Law was followed to the latter and in most scenarios, both the worker and the employer ended up gaining from the recommendations. They were methods that relatively followed facts rather than taking a personal approach the way Martin employed his. In an article review of the book Gus T, Assistant president, ILGWU says ‘Levitt came from a business where he and his ilk set out to “screw the workers.
“’ Unlike the merit of relative benefiting both the employer and employee, as shown from the tactics employed by the management consultants, Martins’ method did not benefit the organizations, the workers or his peers on his side. Gus continues to explain that the organizations that they served had to foot with a very large bill that Martin demanded, the workers had to persevere without unions that had been busted while they themselves engaged in luring away choice clients from one another in some effort to set up independent agencies.
Therefore, there is great disparity between the two comparisons which all aim at preventing the formation or action of workers unions. The above information has given a broad analysis on the functions and services that are provided by the union avoidance management consultants. It has been observed that they do vary from one consultant to another. It has also been observed that the ideas brought forth by the consultants do pose both positive and adverse effects. Positive effects include better relationships that are fostered when employers engage in a good communication basis with workers.
Organization productivity also does increase and this is due to efficient systems and policies that were created when the organization was trying to avert possible union formation. Workers also stand to gain from use of these services because salary and wage raise are observed where the organization fears imminent union formation or action. Unions have also been observed to lower productivity when they start demanding for talks and negotiations that take up precious resourceful time.
Strikes that they do organize do lead to losses in revenue and sales in the period under the strike. Therefore, averting the possibility of workers joining unions will prove to be the better option. The only negative issue that arose from the services offered by the union avoidance management consultants was if the organization in question adopted a method that would attempt to restrain any member from willfully joining any registered union of his or her choice.
This essentially means that certain human rights shall have been curtailed and particularly in this case freedom of expression. Apart from the last identified demerit, it is quite clear that the union avoidance management consultants have more good than bad to offer. According to my opinion, their existence should be encouraged so long as their advices do not infringe the basic human rights.
The role that the union assumes should be addressed through other means, for example legislation that explain the fundamental rights of the worker, laws that identify correctly minimum wage standards, rules that identify proper working conditions of workers etc
Gus, T. (1993). The new leader. Confessions of a union buster review. 30 Luis, E. P. (2005). Union avoidance begins before a union is at the door. Labor perspectives, 1-8 Martin, J. L. (1993). Confessions of a union buster. Ohio. Crown press Russell, J. T. (1967). Union Avoidance. The Positive Approach. Boston. Harvard press