A Union is a Union, Right?

Written by William Lulias, Senior Labor Consultant

Interestingly, I have been asked that question several times in the course of my profession. At first I was taken back as I could not believe that an employee would consider “any” union when exercising their rights under the National Labor Relations Act. My experience is that many times a union makes its way to the employer’s doorstep, through a union friend of an employee, sometimes a supervisor who had been in a union in the past or a union organizer hears of an opportunity to make his or her quota and makes an effort to organize the workplace.

Unions today are winning 66% of their representational elections. That appears to be good news for unions who have steadily lost membership since 1980. Today in the private sector less than 6.7% of the workforce belongs to a union so one would expect the numbers to increase, but union Decertification Elections, where disappointed union members vote the union out of the workplace, actually negate the aforementioned 66% union success story.

When “any” union shows up at the employers doorstep the employee’s hope is that union will provide some benefit and representation. The playing field, however, has become the “Wild West” and unions are going for membership numbers and it doesn’t matter what industry. The Department of Labor sent out 150 Critical Status Notices for union pensions in 2014 and 85 Endangered Status Notices the same year. Unions need funding and they need it now.

I was at a Nursing Home facility in Minnesota where the United Steel Workers were trying to organize a micro unit there. Michigan at a hospital, The United Auto Workers were organizing a micro unit there. Teamsters in Illinois, funeral homes, a surgical department was organized at a Minnesota hospital by the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union. These are all within the rights of an employee to have a representative of their choosing. My dentist, is a Doctor and a very exceptional dentist, my physician is also a Doctor and one of the finest at the Mayo clinic but I would have to test my senses to have my dentist perform open heart surgery on me or any of my loved ones.

Employee rights are protected rights under the Act. Employers have the duty and responsibility to communicate and clearly articulate with their employees. Do employers take the time to “know” their employees and their leadership team? Have employers successfully articulated their goals and vision in clear language their employees can understand?

If not, you may have an obscure union representing your employees because the union will fill the vacuum created. Communication is king.


Written by William Lulias

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