Management and Union Security. When management and unions bargain they must also consider survival. A union cannot achieve advantages for its members unless it continues to exist.
When management and unions bargain they must also consider survival.
A union cannot achieve advantages for its members unless it continues to exist.
Management’s survival in collective bargaining refers to it ability to remain master in its own house and to retain managerial authority.
Management security refers to the freedom of management to make managerial decisions………
To perform the “functions of management” without interference from the union.
The traditional division of decision-making authority in the United States was codified in the Wagner Act.
Management was required to bargain with unions over wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment.
All other decisions, such as level of employment, production methods, product design, plant location, pricing, and advertising, were traditionally considered strictly management prerogatives.
An example of a management security clause:
“The right to hire, lay off, discharge for cause, promote, or transfer employees is the exclusive prerogative of management, except as otherwise provided in this contract.”
There are three kinds of decisions found in the employer-employee relationship:
Unilateral Management Decisions
Unilateral Union Decisions
The law divides the three types of decisions into the following bargaining subjects:
Mandatory - Permissive - Illegal
Among companies and unions engaged in a high level of cooperation, the issues of scope of bargaining, and of management prerogative may be of lesser significance than for the vast majority of unions and employers, for whom these subjects are very important.
The only topics over which bargaining is legally (mandatory) required are included under the heading “wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment”.
All other legal subjects of bargaining are referred to as permissive because bargaining over them is not mandated by law.
It is an unfair labor practice for either side to unilaterally change a condition of employment that is a mandatory subject of bargaining without first bargaining to the point of impasse.
It is also illegal to bargain to the point of impasse over a permissive subject.
Over the years, the scope of mandatory topics of bargaining has expanded significantly.
See page 174 of the course text for a current list of acceptable mandatory and permissive subjects of bargaining.
Permissive subjects include:
Benefits to retirees, employer advertising practices, discontinuation of product lines, partial closing of a business, when not motivated by antiunion animus, business relocation, introduction of automation, and various kinds of subcontracting decisions.
Permissive subjects :
However, the effects that such unilateral decisions may have on employees can be a mandatory subject of bargaining.
Assumes that bargaining slows down the allocation of resources to their most productive uses and that labor can generate no information or ideas for alternatives that might contribute efficiency,
Owners (or managers) should have unrestricted authority over their own property and should not have to bargain over business decisions
Presumed Futility of Bargaining
Sound business decisions based on conditions faced by the firm should not be reversed as a result of labor negotiations. Labor lacks the expertise to participate fully in today’s complex economic environment.
There apparently is little, if anything, that can be classified unequivocally as the sole prerogative of either side for all times and situations, so long as employers are free to select who shall work for them and employees are free to choose whether they will work for a particular employer.
In a free economy, it is pointless for either side to claim inherent rights to bargain about any particular subject.
Unilateral Control of Strategy
If bargaining is to have any meaning, each party must control its own strategy and leadership in dealing with the other.
Interest and Decision Making
The attempt to settle problems on the basis of Prerogatives or “inherent rights” holds the prospect of extending futile disagreement. An approach based on Interests can bring a logical and realistic settlement.
Ability and Decision Making
Either party will tend to insist on participation in a decision in proportion to its ability in the subject matter involved - assuming that it also has an interest.
Modification of the Ability Criterion
There is a presumption that employees or unions should not participate in top management decisions, since they are not in a position to make those decisions wisely.
Many employees of unions are also organized and bargain collectively with the union that employs them.
Under a strong management clause,
rigorously guarded and enforced, the
executives are free to study that environment
and decide how best to live with it, and then
carry out those decisions without interference
from the union.
That is the core of management security.
A typical management clause:
Section 2.1 Management of the Company. The management of the Company and the direction of the work force is vested exclusively in the company subject to the terms of this Agreement. All matters specifically and expressly covered or treated by the language of the Agreement may be administered for its duration by the Company in accordance with such policy or procedure as the Company from time to time may determine.
In practice the defense of management
security hinges on two critical points:
Can management prevent wildcat strikes?
Can management prevent insubordination?
The answer is “Yes” assuming that:
Management is successful in negotiating a “No-Strike” clause
They are effective in establishing and enforcing discipline.
Some contracts place definite restrictions on managerial prerogatives.
Some contracts contain a general statement limiting managerial rights, others set restrictions in such areas as subcontracting, performance of work by supervisors, technological changes, and plant shutdown or relocation.
Traditionally, labor unions and employers in the United States have objected to union presence on corporate boards of directors.
The most noted exception in this country has been the appointment of the head of the UAW to the board of Chrysler.
The growth of European-owned industry in the United States could also encourage the importation of codetermination or representation by workers on boards of directors, into this country, since union members on the boards of directors of European companies may favor codetermination for the U. S. subsidiaries.
The meaning of union security:
It refers to the continued existence of the union as the bargaining agent for each bargaining unit it represents.
It can also be defined as the union’s freedom to perform the function of collectively representing employees without interference from management or other sources.
The final definition parallels that of management security in that both are defined in terms of freedom to act.
Unions unlike management are dispensable.
This subordinate position is the starting point of the problem of union security and partially explains many characteristics of union behavior.
In many places management dislike takes active forms and keeps the union’s existence in perpetual jeopardy.
Antiunion labor attorneys help employers operate within the law, while at the same time making it very difficult for unions to gain recognition.
The use of union busting consultants who specialize in defeating unions include lawyers, employer and trade associations, psychologists, detectives, and nonprofit antiunion organizations.
Reasons for Anti-Union activities:
Resistance in the antiunion South.
Organizational activities of large
unions are more threatening.
Anti-Union methods are much
After one year employees can request a decertification election provided no contract is in force.
A contract can act as a bar to a decertification election for up to three (3) years.
Decertification elections must be requested during the 30 day period from 90 to 60 days before the contract expiration date.
There are also special circumstances under which employers could file for a representation election.
Under Taft-Hartley employees can petition the NLRB to conduct a union shop deauthorization poll. A winning vote for deauthorization gives the employees the right to remove the union shop provision from the labor contract.
A union’s ability to organize workers and collect dues is complicated further by right-to-work laws, which prohibit compulsory union membership.
By a ruling of the NLRB, the union, as exclusive bargaining agent, must process the grievance of any individual employee against the employer, including arbitration if necessary, even if the employee is not a member of the union and pays no dues.
Although nonmembers cannot vote in elections for union officers or on contract ratification, the number of employees placing a high value on that privilege is not large enough to alter this particular situation.
While some employees desire to “ride free” others avoid the union because:
They object on principle.
The dues are too high and misused.
Some see the unions as having no value.
Some don’t want to upset the boss.
Union leaders without disciplinary powers lack the authority to effectuate the strategy for which they are responsible.
For the union, the discrepancy between authority and responsibility can be substantial in the area of contract enforcement.
Whether disciplinary power is needed for the orderly execution of bargaining tactics or the faithful observation of the contract, the ultimate discipline in all organizations except the government is expulsion.
But as long as union membership is voluntary, expulsion from union membership is an ineffectual disciplinary action.
It is suggested that sound relations between union and management are impossible unless both parties possess a rather high degree of security.
The insecure union, like the insecure individual, often tends to be permanently aggressive and belligerent.
Many employers see distinct advantages in a secure union. This attitude is more marked in large firms and among those who have dealt longest with unions.
In many ways union security leads to a less hostile, and distractive work environment.
Once management accepts that the union will be with it indefinitely the alternatives change.
Modified Union Shop
Maintenance of Membership
The basic conflict over union security is now clear. On the one hand, union security seems to be a requisite condition for sound industrial relations.
On the other, compulsory membership curtails the individual’s freedom of choice.
Most legislation about union security since World War II has moved in the direction of prohibiting compulsory membership.
This, of course, prevents the abuse of the union’s disciplinary power by abolishing it.