Managing a Union Workforce

Event Description

While the objective is the same, there are distinct differences between managing employees in a union-free environment and a unionized workplace. In an operating unit where the interests of rank-and-file employees are represented by a third party, a number of sensitive political, practical, and legal issues often arise that must be dealt with appropriately in order to accomplish the company’s objectives.

This course has been prepared at the request of several HR Policy Association members who find their high-potentials in both operations and HR need additional schooling in the unique characteristics of the represented environment.

The course first covers both the special rules and customs found in a unionized workplace. It reviews the characteristics of each of the key constituencies found there—senior management, site management, front line supervision, rank-and-file employees, local union leadership, the international union—and covers their motivations and agendas. Both the legal and practical issues involved in the company’s dealing with rank-and-file employees and union leadership are detailed. Significant attention is given to the impact of the contract, past practices, and other potential restrictions on management’s rights.

Special emphasis is placed on the very important issue of how to deal with employee discipline in a union environment. We will discuss how to investigate and document such cases, the burden of proof and application of standards of just cause. The course concludes with a problem solving exercise involving a final management decision of whether to pursue a specific discipline case, involving a union steward and other bargaining unit employees, to arbitration.

For those interested in a complete overview of the management issues arising in an organized environment, we suggest that this course be taken in conjunction with the course entitled "Administering the Contract: Grievance Handling and Arbitrating Workplace Disputes."

This course is intended for anyone with management responsibilities in a represented environment, including those involved in site management, operations, and HR.