Card Check: A Warning to Human Resources

Kris Dunn is vice president for human resources at a medical software company who blogs at the hr capitalist, always an entertaining read. But in a new column at “Workforce Management,” he sends a serious message to his HR peers about the Employee Free Choice Act: “This piece of legislation would cripple the competitiveness of American business, limit the rights of employees and eliminate the need for independent-thinking HR pros, all in one easy-to-sign law.”

The column is a good primer on the card check legislation, and Kris makes it clear why HR professionals should be concerned.

  • You’re responsible for being an advocate for employees AND for being a business agent: If you’re progressive as an HR pro, you like to find ways to contribute to business results. Examples include being an advocate for pay for performance on a daily basis, making tough calls on nonperformers and trying things “on the fly” from a benefit perspective. Kiss that flexibility goodbye under a bargaining agreement. You manage by what the contract says. Period.
  • You’re responsible for creating and maintaining a workplace free of intimidation and harassment: As an advocate for this type of workplace, you should automatically be against the Employee Free Choice Act, because eliminating the confidential election sets up the perfect opportunity for intimidation in your workplace. Sign the card and you’re with us, or don’t sign the card and we know you’re against us. Make your decision now, with no graceful way to back out later if you so desire. Nice.
  • Under the act, you lose the opportunity to tell your story: Under the current system, the company has the ability to tell employees why they believe a union isn’t necessary. Under the Employee Free Choice Act, the union can be voted in before you knew you had a problem.
  • If a union is certified via card check under the Employee Free Choice Act, the employees are going to come to you once they figure out what has happened: Get ready for the question “How could you let this happen?”—even from employees who signed cards. Misinformation will be rampant, and with the elimination of the campaign period and election there will be no effective counter to what employees are told to get them to sign a card, or for intimidation that occurs in the workplace. Employees will still hold you accountable, thinking you could have done something.
  • You’re going to be less than satisfied with your HR career in a union shop: If you’ve spent your career as an HR manager/director/VP in a union-free environment, you’re going to be bored in an employment unit that is represented by a union. Your flexibility to innovate and help employees will be dramatically reduced, as the bargaining agreement is the sole document by which you’ll manage the workforce. Skills like yours aren’t really required in that type of environment. 

Read the whole thing.

Leave a Reply