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Union Avoidance at the Workplace


Union avoidance is an attempt by an employer to diminish the strength of labor unions or any other body that is seeking to defend the interests of the employees. Such practices are common when the management forces the workers to agree to unfavorable working conditions. It may include, among others, spying, hiring of workers who are known to disagree with union pacts, lockouts, or even use of force. Union avoidance may involve both illegal and legal activities.

In this paper, the author acts as a consultant for a firm that wishes to remain union-free. In the paper, recommendations are made on what the company can do to achieve union avoidance. An analysis of the election process under the National Labor Relations Act is also provided. Finally, the legal constraints affecting the management’s ability to campaign, as well as the elements of an election process, are highlighted.

How to Maintain a Union-Free Workplace

Recommendations on How to Create a Union-Free Workplace

Several strategies can be adopted to make sure that employees do not take part in trade unions. For example, the management can join anti-union organizations, enhance job satisfaction, and interfere with election campaigns.

Joining anti-union organizations

Employers can join anti-union bodies to curb the activities of trade movements in their firms. Immunity from unionization allows the management to put the priorities of the company before those of the employee, paving way for exploitation (Logan, 2006). Some organizations lobby for laws that prohibit compulsory union membership among employees.

Reduce employee dissatisfaction

Discontent among workers leads to the desire to form unions. As such, a company that aspires to remain union-free should improve the welfare of its employees. The management should note that dissatisfaction in the workplace is the main factor that prompts employees to take part in a union (Budd, 2010). The main sources of discontent among workers include non-competitive benefits, poor wages, and discrimination from the administration.

Preparations for a union campaign

When campaigns to form a union or conduct elections commence, some rules are likely to be put in place. The guidelines will give the employer room to maneuver and respond to the complaints raised by the workers (Budd, 2010). It is also possible to discipline union cohorts when the campaign is started by the management. As a result, the company will be able to apply the new rules and sustain efficiency in the workplace during and after the campaigns.

The Election Process under the National Labor Relations Act

According to the National Labor Relations Act, an election process begins with the filing of a petition and other documents (Description of election and post-election representation case procedures, 2015). The filing takes place at the regional National Labor Relations Board office. It can also be conducted electronically (Dundon, 2002). The petitioner should attach documents to show evidence of support from at least 30% of the employees in the firm (Dundon, 2002). The board’s representatives then investigate if the agency has jurisdiction over the issue. The qualifications of the union are also assessed (Description of election and post-election representation case procedures, 2015). The board also checks for the presence of prevailing labor contracts or contemporary guidelines that may prevent the conduction of an election.

After filing the petition, the employer is expected to post a Notice of Petition for Election in places accessible to the employees. Representatives from the National Labor Relations Board then seek to come up with an election agreement between the union, the employer, and other stakeholders (Budd, 2010). They also set the time, place, and date of balloting. The ballot ‘linguistic’ and the suitable unit and technique to define those qualified to vote are also put in place.

When an agreement is reached, the parties allow the National Labor Relations Board regional director to oversee the elections (Cooke, 2001). When no agreement arrives, the director holds a hearing. They may order for an election after the investigations. The director may also set conditions to regulate the conduct of the parties by the rules of the board and its verdicts.

Legal Limitations Affecting the Ability of the Management to Campaign

Unlike unions, which enjoy a lot of privileges, the management is constrained by the law. For example, the employer is not allowed to conduct ‘home visits’ during campaigns (Gunnigle, Lavelle & McDonnell, 2009). The legal cap gives the unions an upper hand. Employers are also banned from making promises during the campaign period. Petitioning of an election is controlled by the unions. The employer has no control over these procedures (Gunnigle et al., 2009). In addition, the unions control the designation of the bargaining unit.

Elements of an Election Campaign

The following are the elements of an election campaign:


The goals of the drive should be clear. The aim is to ensure that a long-term impression is left (Cooke, 2001).

Problem description

The election should focus on exposing the existing challenges (Dundon, 2002).

Recommend a solution

The campaign message should suggest a solution to the prevailing problem (Cooke, 2001).

Engaging the audience with a specific course of action

The campaign should strive to achieve a specified objective about the target audience. The goal can be achieved through the use of slogans (Dundon, 2002).


Employers should reconsider their union avoidance tactics in the future. Today, anti-union campaigns and post-petition are no longer reliable. As a result, the company should strive to improve the relations between the management and the employees. The aim is to ensure that the employees feel they are appreciated and respected by the management.


Budd, J. (2010). Labor relations: Striking a balance (4th ed.). New York: Free Press.

Cooke, W. (2001). Union avoidance and foreign direct investment in the USA. Employee Relations, 23(6), 558-580.

Description of election and post-election representation case procedures. (2015). Web.

Dundon, T. (2002). Employer opposition and union avoidance in the UK. Industrial Relations Journal, 33(3), 234-245.

Gunnigle, P., Lavelle, J., & McDonnell, A. (2009). Subtle but deadly?: Union avoidance through ‘double breasting’ among multinational companies. In D. Lewin & B. Kaufman (Eds.), Advances in Industrial & Labor Relations (pp. 51-73). London: Emerald.

Logan, J. (2006). The union avoidance industry in the United States. British Journal of Industrial Relations, 44(4), 651-675.

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