GMFC-CCD Case Study: Establishing a Labor Union
In the labor market, employers hold much more power than employees, at least because the former possess means of production, as well as decide whom to hire and whom to dismiss from companies. Therefore, it is paramount for workers to be able to organize in labor unions to protect their collective interests. The current paper discusses potential steps to be taken to create a labor union in a GMFC-CCD plant, as described in the case provided by Fossum (2012, pp. 193-194).
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First of all, it is pivotal for a labor union organizer to establish contacts with employees of the plant who might be viewed as the potential members of the future labor union (Fossum, 2012). The union organizer needs to create good relationships with the employees of the plant, which could be done via informal communication with them during the breaks at work, by spending some time together after work (if there exists such a practice among the workers), or perhaps during various collective events. The union organizer should attempt to find out whether the laborers are dissatisfied with something at work, and what exactly their problems are.
Having found out the workers’ problems, the union organizer ought to consider what comparisons the workers should make to gain motivation to participate in a labor union. In the given case, it is not recommended to make comparisons with other local plants, for workers there gain lower salaries than in GMFC-CCD (Fossum, 2012).
It might be possible to make comparisons with other GMFC plants (e.g., it’s Main City Operation) in which laborers earn more than $12-14 per hour, as well as with salaries of workers in other areas of the U.S. (however, the inflation index should be considered so as not to spread untruthful information). It also should be made known that the company’s sales grow by 20% annually over several last years (Fossum, 2012). Additionally, the concerns of the preppers, who do somewhat dirtier work than others but do not get better wages, should be stressed upon.
While explaining to the laborers that they earn lower wages than GMFC Main City Operation workers, the idea of unionizing should be presented to them, although carefully. It is possible to provide the workers with labor unions and campaign literature. The literature that would allow them to know their rights and the potential benefits (as well as dangers) of creating a labor union should be provided (Battaglio, 2015). It is also needed to provide materials about formally establishing the labor union, choosing its leaders, and to the process of union’s functioning. Care should be taken not to alarm the factory’s management prematurely, for they might attempt to prevent union establishment.
When enough workers are willing and ready to participate in a union, the organizer should be able to create the desired organization. It will also be needed to determine who will be represented by the union. The bargaining unit should include all the individuals supportive of or sympathetic towards the union. Generally speaking, it is better to include as many individuals in the bargaining unit as possible (to lower the threat of targeted retaliation), but those who are not sympathetic towards the union or are opposed to it should not be included. Also, the bargaining unit must not include any members of the management.
It is possible to consider an authorization card campaign. Authorization cards may additionally fortify the union by lowering the chance that the plant management will attempt to influence separate employees; however, these cards might become a weakness if the management tries to influence the leaders of the union.
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The union organizers should also be prepared to cope with various delays about different organizational moments related to union activity. It is paramount to make adjustments for possible delays in the execution of future steps; such adjustments should be made while considering the most pessimistic scenarios of events.
Besides, potential unfair labor practice charges against GMFC-CCD should be considered (Strecker, 2011). ULPs may include, e.g., wages of preppers, who do dirtier work than others but do not receive greater pay. Also, more information about the work in the plant will be needed; it may be recommended to check whether the work of any laborers is unsafe, what the injury rates in the factory are, etc. If these are detected, they may be used for ULP charges to make the company to improve the labor conditions and/or the workers’ pay.
The labor union organizer should be careful not to alarm the factory’s management too early to avoid having to deal with countermeasures while being not ready. Thus, the idea of creating a union should at first be spread carefully, among those workers who can be deemed trustworthy. The workers should also be taught to identify management countermeasures. When there are signs that the management is suspicious or knows about union creation efforts, measures should be taken to counteract their activities. If the management unreasonably attempts to prevent the union creation at all costs, it might be needed to organize negotiations and reason with the management to demonstrate that such actions may result in great losses for the company while also harming the workers (Fossum, 2012).
On the whole, a labor union organizer should establish contacts with workers and gradually prepare them for participation in a labor union. Care should be taken not to alert the company’s management prematurely. Once the conditions are appropriate, the union should be established, its leaders and the bargaining unit determined, and the previously identified methods to negotiate with the company’s management should be implemented.
Battaglio, R. P. Jr. (2015). Public human resource management: Strategies and practices in the 21st century. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
Fossum, J. A. (2012). Labor relations: Development, structure, process (11th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.
Strecker, D. E. (2011). Labor law: A basic guide to the national labor relations act. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.