There are several differences between a union environment and a non-union environment. The most striking distance is that the workers are organized, and that has significant implications for the relationship between management and the workers. With respect to most issues, including pay and working conditions, negotiation on these issues is with the union, in the form of a collective bargaining agreement, rather than individually with each employee. Most things will be more formalized, which will affect processes for just about everything, and that includes critical issues like discipline. The union will be the face of the workers, and thus there will be limited interaction between management and workers in most cases. The division will be fairly cultural -- the organization itself will change. So the unionized shop is a more formalized environment, often more antagonistic but even when it is not, it is more mechanistic. Management has limits on its controls, for example, and this will affect how and when management seeks to affect change on the organization. It is likely that the organization will become less responsive, as it must partner with the union to get any changes through. What use to be simple processes will now be subject to negotiation and political trade-offs. In essence, the company is going to change a lot if the workers unionize (Gustafson, 2015).
Over time, the employees will extract more pay and benefits. They have this ability because a union is a collective, and in this it has much more bargaining power than any one employee would have had individually. The organization needs to consider that this will affect its cost structure, and may need to think about how that will affect strategic overall. It is not just that, but unions are also protected by specific rights, including the right of free association. Management should...
For example, management is not allowed to interfere with the organizing process, just in case anybody was thinking of doing so. The right to strike is a big one, because now the organization will be threatened with shutdown, if there is no collective bargaining agreement in place. The business is now faced with total shutdown, or near total, and depending on the nature of the business might want to consider having plans for that, especially if it starts to get close to the end of a collective bargaining agreement.
So a free environment leads to a more flexible situation, where management and each individual employee can define roles, pay and benefits, in addition to being able to change these things more quickly. A unionized environment will slow all of this down, and increase the bargaining power of the workers. This will change the culture of the organization, the structure and a lot of different process that govern how the organization meets its strategic objectives. The workers are going to have a much greater level of involvement in all of these issues.
There are limits as to what management can and cannot do during a unionization campaign. These limits have been established and tested in court, and management would do well to understand these laws, and the involvement level that management can have when there is an organizing effort in their staff. In the past, management may have had broader limits on its responses to union organizing. First, management has to establish its stance on the issue. Freeman and Kleiner (1988) found that where the likelihood of union victory is high, management often does not fight the unionization, because it wants to retain healthy relations with these workers, with whom they will soon be negotiating a CBA. The employer can seek to make the workplace a better place, in…
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