Many organization campaigns are initiated by the employees. Unfortunately, this can sometimes create a difficult relationship between the employees and management. Sometimes, people feel they are fighting an "Us & Them" battle. However, employers have the ability to create a more positive relationship with their employees by recognizing their voice and initiating union negotiations.
The way you decide to structure relations with your staff is an important decision. If you recognize a trade union, it will benefit your business when you enjoy a good working relationship with them. You may also benefit from union expertise on issues such as health and safety, drawing up disciplinary procedures, training, etc.
Download this flyer on the many benefits employers can enjoy with employer union organization
Union workplaces have shown over and over again that employee production and participation are always higher because of their union involvement. Even if you find that your hourly costs may seem higher, in the end you save money by having more qualified, educated, safe, and active employees in the workplace. Download this article showing the high performance benefits of union organization.
Will my employees be replaced?
Absolutely not! We do not replace working employees with "senior" members or any other members. Our venue-based hiring system ensures that your employees stay with your company as long as they want to. There is also an extra benefits: Access for your employees to get work elsewhere while your facility is slow, and access to additional part-time crews when your facility is busy!
You no longer have to worry about trying to keep your employees working during slow time. If you don't have work for them, they can take other calls with Local 122 until you have work available for them again. Your employees are happier and financially stable without putting extra cost on your company during low-income times.
If times suddenly get real busy, it is simply a matter of one phone call and IATSE Local 122 will take care of your crew requirements. You don't have to commit to keeping a large workforce on the payroll for any longer than you need to, and your employees are still able to sustain a valuable way of life.
The effects and benefits of union recognition
Although some employers prefer to use non-union methods, there can be advantages in recognizing and co-operating with a union. It can act as a focus for communication and consultation and help build a good working relationship between management and the workforce. However, it also imposes certain obligations on the employer.
One point of call
Having a single body for negotiating terms and conditions for employees is simpler than organizing separate fragmented arrangements among individuals. However, once you've agreed this approach to negotiations, you will need to work through these channels.
If your employees can discuss pay, conditions and other issues with you through their union, they are likely to feel more involved in the way the business is being run. Simply having this officially recognized system of on-the-record dialogue with the owners or managers of the business can encourage trust and commitment among the work force.
The union will also be able to represent the workforce at difficult times when emotions can run high, for example, if you need to make redundancies or sell the business.
You may also be able to make better-informed decisions with the benefit of constructive input from workers who have the relevant skills and knowledge.
Unions are likely to have a broader perspective on many issues. They represent not only the workers in your business, but many others in similar, related organizations. If you can show the union representatives that you appreciate the interests of your employees, they in turn may help get your message across to their members.
Even unpopular decisions may be more acceptable to your employees if you can persuade them and their union that a change is necessary for the continued health of the business.
Rights to trade union membership
A trade union is an organization of workers that seeks to protect and advance the interests of its members by negotiating with employers on pay and conditions of work. Unions may also provide legal advice, financial assistance, sickness benefits and education facilities to their members.
There can be advantages to employers if their staff are in a union:
- It can be easier to communicate, consult and negotiate with one body than with several individuals
- unions can help with safety issues in the workplace
- they can help to organize training and development
- they can help to improve staff morale and commitment
An employer cannot refuse to employ someone on the basis of their membership or non-membership of a trade union. This guide aims to explain the basic rights of trade union members, non-members, union officials, union learning representatives and other types of employee representatives.
Rights of trade union members and non-members
Employees have the legal right not to be penalized on the grounds of trade union membership or non-membership.
Employers cannot legally:
- refuse to employ an individual because they are, or want to be, a member of a trade union
- refuse to employ an individual because they do not, or do not want to, belong to a union
- dismiss or make redundant employees for belonging to a union or for refusing to join one.
- penalize or discriminate against an employee, eg by refusing or failing to offer promotion or training because of their membership of a trade union
- campaign unfairly against a workforce's decision to recognize a trade union, eg by offering monetary inducements or imposing sanctions
Whilst employers may choose to voluntarily recognize a trade union, they may be compelled to do so in some circumstances if this is the wish of the majority of their workforce.
Rights to time off
Members of a recognized trade union have rights to reasonable time off to take part in trade union activities at an appropriate time.
- The activities must relate to matters where the union is recognized by the employer. However, industrial action does not count as a union activity.
- An appropriate time may be either outside a union member's normal working hours, or during working hours if the employer has agreed. The time is unpaid.
- Reasonable time off normally means time off that is reasonable in all the circumstances of the business, including the effect of the employee's absence on the business.
Right of complaint
Employees can complain to an employment tribunal if they think that they have been unlawfully refused employment or have been penalized in some other way because of their membership or non-membership of a trade union. They can also complain if they think they have been dismissed for union activities, membership or non-membership or if they have not been permitted reasonable time off for union activities. Trade union officials have additional protection for carrying out their union duties.
Rights of union officials
A trade union official may be a paid full-time official of the union or an employee who has been appointed by the union to represent its members in the workplace.
Duties may include:
- recruiting, organizing and representing members of a trade union, either individually or collectively
- attending meetings with members of the workforce and management
- negotiating with the employer on terms and conditions of employment or matters of discipline
Rights to time off
Employers must give officials of a recognized union reasonable paid time off:
- to carry out their union duties, eg meeting with the employer to discuss terms and conditions or accompanying employees to disciplinary and grievance hearings
- for training related to union duties
- for union learning representatives (ULRs) to carry out their functions and undertake training
Employers must give union officials and members reasonable unpaid time off for carrying out other union activities, not directly related to the workplace, and using the services of a ULR.
Rights of union learning representatives
Union learning representatives (ULRs) have the same status as union shop stewards and are allowed paid time off to discharge their duties.
Union learning representatives are:
- representatives of a recognized union who provide advice to union members about their training, educational and developmental needs
elected or appointed in accordance with the union's rules
trained in line with a statutory training conditions
notified to the employer in writing
Rights of ULRs
ULRs have a legal right to reasonable paid time off during working hours to carry out their duties, which may include:
- undertaking relevant training
- analyzing the learning or training needs of union members
- providing information and advice on learning or training
- arranging learning or training
- consulting the employer about learning and training
- preparing for the above
A ULR does not have a negotiating role.
Advantages for employers
ULRs can be a source of expert advice. They cost the employer comparatively little and can help with identifying the training needs of staff and encouraging a learning culture within the company.
Rights of various employee representatives
An organization may have different types of employee representative as well as trade union representatives.
These may include:
- health and safety representatives
- pensions trustees
- representatives in the case of redundancies and transfers
- members of works councils
If a union is recognized by the employer, the employer must consult representatives appointed by the recognized trade union on matters affecting the groups of employees they represent, including:
union safety representatives
- elected representatives in a non-unionized workplace, or where there are none, the employees themselves
- This consultation must cover safe working practices and the basic health, safety and welfare rights of employees.
- Representatives should also be consulted in the event of contact with the Health & Safety Executive.
Both union and non-union safety representatives have the right to:
- paid time off to carry out their role and undergo training provided by the employer
- raise issues with the employer that affect the health and safety of members
- facilities and support from the employer to carry out inspections and risk assessments
- receive legal and technical information from the employer
Advantages of employee representatives
Having formally appointed representatives can greatly benefit you as an employer.
Health and safety representatives are required by regulations and having people as permanent appointments allows for proper training. Pension trustees usually benefit from having an employee representative among them and many schemes require at least one to be on the board. You may find it useful to have known representatives to talk to about problems and developments within the workplace. This helps both formal and informal communications.