The purpose of this assignment is to provide advice based on two fact patterns that include several legal problems as they relate to collective bargaining and unions.
Please read the following (two) scenarios and respond to the questions below:
A large company is planning to downsize. A consultant suggests the following:
It makes sense to focus on one of your unionized plants. We suggest that you reduce the 300 employees at that plant to 100. Some of the components that you produce at that plant can be made at your non-union South Carolina plant.
Since you will be terminating 200 employees, I suggest that you terminate 50 employees per week, This way, you won’t have to worry about any legal requirements for providing notice.
If you want to be safe, you can send a letter to employees the week before you begin the first wave of terminations, telling them that the long-term prospects for the plant are not good.
Let the supervisors use their best judgment about who should be retained. They know best.
Consider offering an early retirement plan to generate some voluntary turnover, but don’t get people’s hopes up by announcing it before all the details are in place.
If you offer an early retirement plan, require that all employees who accept it waive their ADEA rights.
Taking early retirement is an important decision, so give employees two weeks to think over the offer.
What are the legal problems with the consultant’s advice? What would be better advice?
A manager hears from a supervisor that a union organizing campaign is underway in his company. The manager hastily contacts his attorney. He receives the following advice:
Identify the “ringleaders” and order them to come to your office for a lengthy “discussion” with management. It is important that you make it known that you are on to their game and won’t stand for it;
In our experience, it usually all boils down to a matter of money. Tell employees that you’ll give them a raise if they don’t unionize. Or, if you’re really concerned, go ahead and hike their pay now;
Setup employee involvement teams If employees say that they want more “voice“. They can make all of the suggestions that they want and vent some steam;
Make sure that you don’t allow any talk about unions in the workplace. And, by all means, make certain that organizers from the union don’t put fliers on windshields in the parking lot or get anywhere near company property;
It’s a good idea to require all employees to attend weekly meetings. At these meetings, managers should remind employees of all the benefits that they have already received without a union and tell them that a union would upset the family-like atmosphere in the company;
Make sure that you tell employees that the union is corrupt and its leaders are in jail. It doesn’t matter whether any of that is true;
Also, tell employees that voting for a union is like voting to tax yourself. Once there is a union, everyone has to pay dues, regardless of whether they ever wanted the union;
It’s an extreme measure, but if necessary, fire a few of the employees who are the most pro-union. That should definitely take the steam out of the effort.
Evaluate the advice given to this employer. What, if any, of it, is bad legal advice? Why? What should the employer do instead?
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