Monday, March 23, 2009

EFCA and its practical effects

EFCA (Employee Free Choice Act): 

Lately EFCA has been gaining national attention, a bill  that can revert the trend of declining numbers in  labor unions.  Highly controversial for its proposed changes, the bill will completely replace the secret ballot election with card check which requires only 50 % + 1 signatures in support for union representation. A detailed overview of the proposed bill and its practical effects are highlighted in the article below.

At the top of labor's wish list is EFCA, a bill that would radically alter 75 years of labor law governing the representation rights of employees. Specifically, EFCA would fundamentally change three critical aspects of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) by:

· Providing for the elimination of NLRB-supervised secret ballot elections in favor of "card check," thereby enabling unions to organize employees merely by convincing or coercing a majority of them to sign authorization cards;

· Changing the rules of bargaining by imposing mandatory interest arbitration on those parties who fail to reach an agreement on their own within 130 days; and

· Subjecting employers to substantially increased penalties and remedial relief.

Practical Effects of EFCA

Until now, an employer "blind-sided" by an underground organizing campaign could respond during the ensuing six-week "campaign" period, during which time it remained free to educate employees on the risks of union representation prior to a secret-ballot election. But in the wake of EFCA ill-prepared employers could suddenly find themselves unionized without so much as a single ballot cast. A drastically streamlined representation process would substantially compromise employers' ability to counter organizing through an informational communications campaign.

1. Limited Time to Respond: If EFCA passes, unions will step up their efforts to utilize secretive card-signing campaigns. This tactic, if left unchecked, would short circuit employer efforts to furnish information explaining the benefits of remaining union free. The employees would be making their decision with only the union's side of the story.

2. Union Pressure: Card-check will enable unions to utilize peer pressure and other forms of coercion to intimidate employees into signing cards, even though they may not actually desire third party representation.

3. Loss of Bargaining Rights and Interest Arbitration: If a union successfully organizes your business, a third party arbitrator could decide the terms and conditions of any resulting collective bargaining agreement. If employers don't like those terms, or worse, cannot make them economically viable, they would have little if any recourse, short of legal challenges on Constitutional grounds.

4. Guaranteed First Contracts: Another practical effect of EFCA is that employers will either have to agree to first contracts or risk having one imposed by an arbitrator. Regardless of how employers get saddled with first contracts, EFCA will require such contracts to stay in place for a minimum of two years.

5. Enhanced Penalties: Mandatory penalties of up to $20,000 per violation, applicable only to employers, could provide labor with a decisive advantage from the standpoint of regulatory enforcement. Compulsory injunctive relief would provide additional leverage. Taken together, these penalties threaten to drive up the cost of litigation during difficult economic times and would certainly encourage unions to file more frivolous unfair labor practice charges as a pressure tactic.


EFCA and the RESPECT Act present unprecedented challenges to employers. Fisher & Phillips has successfully assisted employers in defeating union organizing efforts over the years. We have learned from our experiences that the keys to success are to be proactive, put systems in place to recognize organizing efforts, identify issues that could be exploited by unions, and effectively address those issues so as to render third-party representation unnecessary. Employers that fail to take the pre-emptive actions necessary to deal with these new threats could well find themselves unionized and thereafter presenting information to an arbitrator who will unilaterally shape their work rules, wages, and benefits.,-Organized-Labors-Legislative-Agenda-and-Its-Impact-on-Your-Business&Type=1122&Show=10884

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

"Information Overload"

Every employee wants to be performing above and beyond their call of duty to sustain in this tough competition they face daily at their work sites. And hence multitasking.

Due to this juggling tasks has become an inescapable element of work as revealed by a new field recognized as "Interruption Science" (Source: HR Magazine; August 2008). Information Overload often challenges the innovative and creativity aspects of workers when they have to constantly multitask or shift from one task to another or tackling two cognitive tasks simultaneously.

"A study showed that workers on average spend just 11 minutes on a project and, within that time frame, typically change tasks every three minutes" (Source: HR Magazine; August 2008; "Quelling Distraction: Help employees overcome 'information overload'.")

Companies/Organizations are starting to realize the importance of need to allocate some time for employees to be creative and thinking.

So companies are dealing with this new challenge by carving out "Creative Spaces". Some call it "White space" or Creative room or Work-Out sessions or even "Think Fridays". All these efforts try to provide a physical place or a specific time or day for employees to focus on creative thoughts or agenda-free reflection without any interruptions.

For more information read the complete article HR Magazine; August 2008; "Quelling Distraction: Help employees overcome 'information overload'."

Friday, May 23, 2008

Is aging an issue or an advantage?

According to an article in the HR magazine "Keep pace with older workers"; older workers bring experience and research shows they are equally productive as young employees. Older workers have much lower turnover because of increased loyalty and stability and would be satisfied in their jobs.

Interesting statistics of a store suggests that turnover was six times less for workers over 50 than for those under 30. Further research shows no correlation between age and job performance.
Thus employers could make the work environment more pleasant to the aging workers by understanding their needs, providing them with essential training and helping them adapt to change.
By understanding aging, employers can make mature workers even more productive as well as simultaneously leverage upon their experience to build a legacy of their own.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Understanding employee behavior - Back to the basics of Neuroscience

"The Brain at Work" article (SHRM, March 2008 edition) explains that science is deeply rooted in explaining why people behave the way they do and also on how to better manage them. The article points out that workplace behavior is not always motivated the way many people think (giving incentives). Though it may work for short-term, not in the long run because of the way our brain is wired, when targeted change is in an employee's intrinsic behavior.

Some important lessons from Neuroscience highlighted in the article that can have implications for HR professionals, trainers include

  1. People need enough sleep to integrate learning into long-term memory.
  2. Learning should be broken down into "bite-size nuggets" to make it effective.
  3. Social fairness and respect gives brain a chemical boost.
  4. Stress can cause people to think unclearly.
  5. Uncertainty arouses fear circuits and can decrease ability to make decisions. However, employees’ ability to think clearly can be hindered when employers fail to meet expectations or create uncertainty (in a healthy way with some direction) in the workplace.
  6. Employees need some ownership over situations to better accept changes. Even a little choice helps.
  7. Engaging people in more active learning techniques improves retention.

Having knowledge of how our brain functions and things that people are sensitive to will enable better training decisions, and facilitate managers to better manage their teams.

The complete article can be accessed at the following link.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Developing leaders from within

The IBM Global Human Capital Study 2008 suggests that company leaders emphasize on building leaders from within the company. The survey reflects that it is the leading challenge faced by the organization.

So what are they doing to assess and develop leaders from within the organization? The top executives reported using of initiatives such as Action Learning; Mentoring; and Job Rotation.

Action Learning and Job Rotation are methods where the future leaders gain hands on experience in different projects. Whereas mentoring is one of the most widely used training method to develop future leaders by providing guidance and feedback on one's performance through a one-to one mentor-mentee relationship.

Monday, November 26, 2007

A very good article on kinds of leadership and what makes a person an effective leader. Leadership: is it an innate ability to lead or is it gained by experience? Qualities of different leaders like charismatic leader and transformational leader are also highlighted.

For more details, please check the link below.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Successon Planning - Preparedness for future

Companies that have succession planning in place are better prepared for any sudden changes in the company. It avoids knowledge loss once the leader exits. It gives the ability to takeover new responsibilities in a much faster way and with least disruption in the business activities. Surprisingly, lot of companies do not dedicate sufficient resources to this and may suffer tremendously when CEO's depart unexpectedly.

An article highlights four best practices to ensure effective succession planning that can be implemented in any company - Analysis; Development; Selection and Transition.

Having a structure in place that carefully engages in those best practices will set the new leaders firmly towards future success.

Please follow the link to access the complete article.