What are the arguments against unionizing?
When employees organize, management often campaigns aggressively to dissuade them. The National Labor Relations Act protects the right to organize; it is illegal for employers to interfere with the exercise of that right through heavy-handed tactics such as retaliation against pro-union employees. But management is legally entitled to argue that unionization is a bad idea, and often they make such arguments vociferously. Management may distribute literature, call mandatory meetings all employees are forced to attend, and instruct supervisors to have one-on-one conversations with employees. Such anti-union campaigns can prove intimidating.
The anti-union arguments management makes tend to cluster around three major themes: (1) employees should trust management to do what’s best for everyone, without management having to formally negotiate with employees; (2) the union can’t be trusted; and (3) sticking with the status quo is better than the uncertainty of trying to make change in the workplace.
Here are some of the typical talking points that you are likely to hear from management (or even, perhaps, some anti-union coworkers) as they try to raise employees’ anxieties and discourage a Union Yes vote:
- “Management is already looking out for its employees’ best interests.”
- “Management has new plans to address longstanding grievances.
- “There’s an open door policy that allows employees to address their concerns outside of formal negotiations.”
- “The company is a family.”
- “Be suspicious of the union.”
- “The union is a business, rather than a democratic organization advocating for employees.”
- “The union is a third-party or outsider interfering with the company’s family.”
- “Distrust union promises and guarantees.”
- “Look at the high salaries of union bosses.”
- “You will be forced pay the high cost of union dues, fees, and fines.”
- “Worry about uncertainty.”
- “Restrictive union rules will result in a lack of flexibility or competitiveness.”
- “Unionizing raises the prospect of layoffs or closure.”
- “It’s possible that contract negotiations could make terms of employment worse than they are now.”
- “Unionizing means you would have to go on strike.”
- “You would lose the ability to speak for yourself once you’re a union member.”
(The Guild's Organizing Department has curated a playlist of anti-union propaganda videos from various employers in various industries, in which you can see what this array of anti-union arguments look like in action.)
Sometimes this barrage of talking points works, and employees lose confidence in their ability to stand together to negotiate better terms with their employer. Defying one’s boss takes a lot of courage, and it’s always easier just to accept the status quo.
But, more often than not, when employees have the chance to vote in a free and fair election, they prefer to have a voice in their workplace rather than relying solely on management to represent their best interests. Employees who take the time to educate themselves realize that, across professions and industries, people do better when they bargain collectively.
In our industry, we can point to a long and proud history of post-production professionals working prosperously and harmoniously under union contracts at many of the most successful companies in the business. Since 1937, Editors Guild members have demonstrated that we are stronger together than we are as individuals.
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