Signs of Union Activity

How and when a leader discovers that their employees have decided to organize informs us to the effectiveness of their leadership. For instance, if a manager finds out for the first time that his employees have sought union representation via receipt of a certified NLRB letter in the mail, that’s a clue that leadership is out of touch with its employees!

Of course, that’s an extreme – yet not uncommon – occurrence.  However, there are more subtle signs that your employees may be involved in union organizing activity.  Here are the top 10 common signs:

  1. Employees are gathering in groups more often than usual; act nervous when supervisors or leadership approach; and “change the conversation” when management is around.
  2. Known poor performers are suddenly emboldened and/or more vocal than usual.
  3. Employees who haven’t cared before are showing greater interest in benefits, wages, handbook provisions, etc. and are asking for copies of documentation, often using technical terms like “SPDs”, “compensation studies”,  “policies and procedures”, etc.
  4. Employees or former employees are gathering in larger groups before and after scheduled work periods on Company premises.
  5. Employees seem more critical of management and company practices than in the past. They start using terms such as “seniority”; “job security”; “grievance”; “representation”, etc.
  6. Employees with poor performance records (attendance, quality, getting on with others, etc.) are suddenly showing improvement with out pressing corrective action.
  7. Employees are suddenly forming relationships and communicating with other employees in different departments.
  8. Employees who dislike management are suddenly getting on with or becoming friendly toward supervisors; conversely, management-friendly employees are suddenly distant and surly.
  9. Employees start asking management’s viewpoints on unions.
  10. Employees are observed checking rosters and/or have asked for lists of employees.

Of course, this is not an all-inclusive list, but aside from finding union fliers and buttons in the break room and locker room, a wake up call to employers to reengage with its workforce.