Top down, Bottom up, New Union Trends!

Where Are Unions Going? How Should HR Respond?

The union movement, like any organization, is constantly changing for growth or survival. It seems that the current trend in unionization is downward. Unions are trying to reverse that trend.  Over the last decade membership in unions has declined for a variety of reasons; such as, a loss of manufacturing jobs, globalization, and privatization of traditional public sector jobs.

This following video discusses what unions are doing and how employers can respond.

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Mr. Sundeep Gokhale, a lawyer at Sherrard Kuzz discusses union organizing trends, including how unions are taking a more globalized approach to increasing their membership numbers. Union leaders are now putting pressure on employers to accept unionization, following the voluntary unionization of the workforce at Magna.

The following article highlights some of the new creative tactics unions are using to raise awareness and increase membership rates.

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Some tactics are outlined below:

  • Improve membership by being proactive and creating a network of non-unionized youth
  • Instead of picketing hotel services, unions are replacing striking with street theater to negatively influence the public relations brand of the hotel
  • Spending money to aggressively organize the service sector and the white collar sector

UNIFOR, the largest private sector union, is planning to spend $10 million on organizing new members.  What will HR’s response be? Whether being unionized is good thing or a bad thing is an individual organizational perspective. Remember that what most employees want, is their fair share of the surplus value that they help produce. If that is not happening then unionization becomes a more appealing option to workers.  It seems that the combination of worker unrest and greater organizing tactics from large unions will result greater union membership growth in the coming years.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Your VP of HR is trying to be proactive to ensure a unionization drive does not happen in your organization. You have been asked to create a union prevention action plan, what will you present?
  2. What would promote private sector workers to unionize?
  3. What would promote service sector workers to unionize?

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