Leaked Document from Borders Books

Published here: 31/12/99

UNION AWARENESS TRAINING FOR BORDERS MANAGERS

CONFIDENTIAL PROPERTY OF BORDERS, INC.

Prepared by Anne Kubek, Human Resources September, 1996

Borders' Position On Unions

Our Management Philosophy Statement

Borders is committed to maintaining an employee relations climate which promotes maximum personal development and achievement. We are dedicated to treating our employees fairly and providing good working conditions, cometitive wages and benefits, and above all, the respect that each employee deserves. We also believe in open and direct communication which permits the resolution of employee problems in an atmosphere of mutual trust, responsive to individual circumstances. The company shall continue its efforts to enhance these objectives.

We do not believe that our employees would benefit from outside intervention into these relations, but firmly believe that the best interests of our employees can be served without third-party interference, particularly a union. We greatly value our ability to work with employees individually without their being subjected to burdensome union costs, complicated rules and costly work stoppages.

We will vigorously strive to preserve an environment which nurtures the fulfillment of these goals.

Union Activity at Borders

Why is Borders Experiencing So Much Union Activity?

Unions have made a major effort this year to try to organize many businesses, especially those in the service industry. Union membership has declined steadily in the last ten years, especially due to downsizing and layoffs in the many industries. Unions are businesses which survive solely on the dues of their members. In order to improve and stabilize their financial situation, unions need to increase the number of dues-paying members.

Unions typically look at three things when deciding whether or not to target a company for a union drive.

1. what types of employees do they have? Full-time or part-time? Educated? Will they have a philosophical bent towards unionization? Are they liberal or conservative?

2. is the company undergoing explosive growth? if so, there are likely to be problems within the organization associated with change and growth. The seeds of discontent may have been planted by the growth.

3. what is the makeup of the Board of Directors? do these people run/own /work for companies that have unions or do they support unions?

Borders is a national corporation with a large pool of full-time employees who generally tend to be a little left of center. We are a very high growth company which has undergone a great deal of change in the last two years. Change is unsettling. Some of our employees look to a union to try to control the changes in the company. Unions likely look at us as an important business to organize - one with great potential for them for years to come. Even companies with the most enlightened personnel policies will face problems with unionization.

Summary of Union Activity To-Date

Philadelphia & the IWW

In February of 1996, a number of the employees of store #21 in Center City, Philadelphia, signed union authorization cards and submitted a petition to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in an attempt to unionize the store with the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). The employees of the store had a variety of concerns which they hoped to address via unionization (starting wages, raises, benefits, title base considerations, control of co-op, store conditions, employee involvement in the decision making process within the store). During a six week campaign, Dave Stewart (GM) and Anne Kubek (VP of HR) met with the employees in small group meetings to discuss their concerns and inform them about union issues (collective bargaining, strikes, the IWW, Borders' position on unions, etc.) as well as to clear up some misunderstandings which the staff had (i.e. issues relating to inventory, how books are bought, RPL's, co-op, etc.).

The employees of the store voted not to be represented by the IWW in a 25 -20 vote on March 27, 1996. They cannot attempt another union drive for one year from the election date.

Following the election, some members of the organizing committee seemed to have difficulty accepting the loss of the election and continued to try to encourage employees of other Borders stores to organize.

On June 15, 1996, an employee of store #21 separated from the company for a performance based issue. She issued a memo to the staff which was not entirely factually correct but she did indicate that she felt she was separated for not being willing to follow store policy. At no point in this memo did she state that she felt she was separated for union activity. A few days later, members of the IWW started picketing Borders stores nationwide to protest her separation, claiming that it was tied to her role as a strong proponent of the union. This is false. She was separated for cause. She waited 45 days before filing an unfair labor charge with the NLRB.

The IWW has distributed leaflets inside and outside of several stores including Boston, San Francisco, Towson, LA, Portland OR, Santa Monica, Chicago, Santa Barbara, Honolulu, Seattle, Madison, Novi, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, White Plains, Utica, Ann Arbor and others. Additionally, members of the IWW have protested outside of Waldens stores in Utah and NYC.

Ann Arbor and the UFCW

In June of 1996, we learned that a number of employees at store #01 in Ann Arbor, MI had signed union authorization cards with the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW). We met with the employees in small group meetings to discuss the legal aspects of signing a union authorization card, the implications of unionization on the workplace (especially at Borders), and the various staff concerns (benefits, wages, changes in the company). We also hosted an all-staff meeting to discuss the various issues. Rich Flanagan (President of Borders) and I attended this meeting to answer employee questions on wages, benefits, changes in the company, the latest employee handbook, etc.

The employees submitted signed union authorization cards to the NLRB on July 3, 1996. An election was set for August 14, 1996. When the managers began talking with the staff at the store, it became apparent that at least some of the staff signed union authorization cards without truly understanding their significance. They were told by union organizers that signing the card was merely a "request for more information." Some were told that they had to sign a card to vote. Others signed because they were frustrated with the company and wanted to make a statement, but did not necessarily want a union to represent them.

We continued to meet with the employees of #01 to discuss the UFCW, their by-laws and constitution, duties and obligations of union membership, the finances of the UFCW, the effect of unionization on the store, collective bargaining, and the concerns raised by the staff.

Elections are by secret ballot. The voting unit (the group of employees eligible to vote in the election) was defined in both Philadelphia and Ann Arbor as all the employees who were on the payroll when the petition was filed except for the General Manager and Assistant Managers. To win the election, the union would need to garner 50% + 1 of the votes cast. There were 71 eligible voters in #01. If everyone voted, 36 votes would win the election for either side. However, if only 34 employees chose to vote, then 18 votes would win the election. Regardless of how many employees vote, all employees would be represented by the union if the union were to win the election.

On August 11, we held a final pre-election all store meeting. There was no agenda or planned speeches. Attendance at the meeting was voluntary and we had told the employees that everyone would have the chance to speak if they wanted to do so. We told them that this would be their chance to have their final say, regardless of their stance on the issue.

About one half of the staff attended the meeting. Shortly after Joe Gable (General Manager) opened the meeting, one of the union organizers stood up to read a statement. The statement articulated the four main reasons they had organized in the first place (because they felt they had no voice regarding wages, benefits or working conditions; because their wages are too low; because the health care plan was changed; because the vacation benefit was changed). It went on to accuse the company of conducting a "scurrilous anti-union campaign designed to obfuscate the real issues." They accused "management" of preferring to "run the business as they see fit with a compliant, passive, and non-complaining workforce." These accusations are without merit.

They also complained about the fact that employees posted "anonymous and forged materials containing a diatribe against the Union." This is in reference to one incident where an anti-union employee took a union document and re-wrote it as a parody. Joe removed this from the break room shortly after it was posted. While it is unfortunate that this happened, this was not unlike the unsigned anonymous materials posted by pro-union factions. The union organizing committee's perspective on this one incident is to say that it is "indicative of the desperation that is driving anti-union forces at Borders."

Finally, the union organizing committee stated that for all of the above reasons, they had concluded that a "free, fair and informed election is not now possible" and that therefore they had decided to postpone the election by withdrawing the petition. Withdrawing the petition allows them to come back in six months and try to organize again, rather than waiting a full year if they had lost the election. They would need to gather enough cards again and submit another petition.

At the meeting, the union organizers verbally indicated that they had withdrawn the petition because they had originally had the support of 70% of the staff but now felt that they did not represent a clear majority and would not feel comfortable with a union in the store which only represent ed slightly more than half of the workforce at the store. This certainly seems disingenuous. If the union thought that they could have won this election, they never would have withdrawn the petition. Our last estimates indicated that we probably would have won the election 2 to 1. They also stated that they felt that the organizing committee was too small and was unable to marshal the sorts of resources that the company had. I take issue with this statement. The UFCW is a large multi-million dollar business which has employees whose sole job is to help employees organize. Lack of support by this union was not due to a lack of resources, but perhaps lack of effort on the part of the UFCW local in this case. We had the benefit of legal counsel of course, as does the UFCW.

When the organizing committee announced their decision to cancel the election, there was a great deal of anger on the part of many of the employees present who were frustrated at having the opportunity to vote taken away without their consent. The union organizing committee had explained that one of the reasons that they had attempted to organize was because there was "no democracy in the workplace." The other employees pointed out that by having a small group make the decision to withdraw the petition, they had removed democracy from the union drive.

At the end of the meeting, the employees were attempting to find some common ground and ways to move forward together to try to work with the company to address their issues and concerns. They clearly wanted to find some way to put the divisiveness behind them and work towards regaining the cohesiveness that is characteristic of Borders staffs. On an emotional level, there is relief and certainly some shock at going through a difficult situation without the decisive closure of the vote.

Lincoln Park and the UFCW

On August 21, we received notice from the UFCW demanding recognition without election in Lincoln Park (#101). We declined to recognize the union and so the UFCW submitted their petition. The election will be held in October of 1996. The base issues in this store appear to be wages and staff levels. This store is different in profile than the first two in that it has been open less than one year.

Other Stores

We have heard of various levels of interest in other stores - the IWW and the Teamsters in Indianapolis (#16), UFCW in Albany (#35), rumblings of interest in San Francisco (#57) and Michigan Ave (#58). Employees have been approached by union organizers in Boston (#120), Farmington CT (#55) and Coconut Grove (#121) and probably in other stores as well.

Communication

What Can Be Done to Avoid Unionization in My Store?

The best thing you can do as a manager to avoid unions in your store is the same thing we would expect you to be doing anyway - manage a well-run store with open and honest communication taking place everyday. If you are practicing good interactive communications techniques that encourage the regular exchange of ideas, concerns and solutions between staff and managers, you will probably have the chance to address the types of concerns we've heard in union drives before they become flash points for a staff member or a union organizer looking to organize your staff. So much of what we've seen in the various union efforts is a lot of misinformation or lack of information on the part of the staff. In the absence of accurate information (or any information at all), employees make up their own versions of "the way things are" or "the way things should be."

However, even in a well-run store with excellent communication paths, you may still find yourself involved in a union drive. Why? Primarily because your store may have been targeted by a union and a campaign will be mounted no matter how good a manager you are at the local level. In fact, we have repeatedly heard that local management is often not the issue - corporate is the real target. It is clear that Borders has been targeted for unionization by the UFCW. Therefore, we must be prepared for the possibility of union drives in any store.

As a manager it is important that you take responsibility for the decisions you personally make and be honest with staff about them - don't blame BINC for decisions you make, or decisions that make sense for your store, even if they are not popular. Tell your staff the reasons behind decisions, whether they're made locally or centrally. Be prepared to wear your " corporate hat" when necessary. Be prepared to educate your staff each and every day about why things are the way they are. If you don't know, ask your Regional. You all know the upside of hiring the best people in the business. The downside is that they are a demanding bunch - they need to know the why (sort of like you!).

When addressing the union issue, it is important that managers (general and assistant) are comfortable responding to questions in a positive, confident and informed manner. The more comfortable managers are discussing unions and the potential negatives associated with them in our environment, the more your employees will understand the bigger picture and be able to make an informed decision when faced with unionizing efforts by their co-workers or outsiders.

We should be open and honest with employees about what is going on with union efforts in our company, clear in our reasons why we don't believe that a union is a good thing for Borders, consistent in our message, respectful of the legal rights of employees to organize, and assertive in our response to any union activity that we learn about in our stores.

Being open, communicative and honest from the start can often eliminate the chance that employees will seek out a union, or become involved if they are approached. Having the facts about unions up front can often be enough for employees to avoid involvement.

We need to be clear and articulate in our reasons why we don't believe that a union is a good thing for Borders. Our employees are intelligent, involved and committed people. They also often feel over-qualified and underpaid. In most cases they are. However, we must face certain economic realities as a business. If we can be clear with employees about the tangible benefits of working for Borders (beyond being one of the highest paying book/music/coffee retailers in America) we can help them to assess their feelings about their total compensation. We also need to be sure that our employees understand the difference in how Borders manages its stores - and that that difference is not something to be surrendered lightly. Many of our employees have never worked in another environment (retail or otherwise) and therefore have little to compare us to.

We must be consistent in our message, which can be difficult if you personally believe that unions are generally a good thing or if you tend to feel sympathy towards the reasons behind unionizing in our environment. It is not inconsistent to explain that you may feel that unions serve a necessary and valuable role in society, but that they will not be compatible with our management style. Providing a consistent message that meshes with the general management principles of Borders reiterates our desire for open and unhindered communication between us and our employees.

We must be respectful of our employees' legal right to organize and to engage in discussions about their wages, benefits and conditions of employment. First and foremost, we want to be legal and ethical in our dealings with employees. If we do inadvertently violate any employee's rights, it will be our highest priority to recognize and resolve the situation as soon as possible. We do not seek to work outside the legal limits but instead intend to remain union-free through legal and honest means. This is why we prefer that any debate over the value of a union in our stores take place openly. This allows us a chance to respond to false or erroneous information. If we cause employees to feel that they must hide their thoughts in order to protect themselves from potential retaliation, we all lose.

We must be assertive in our response to any union activity that we encounter in our stores. Your natural reaction may be to hope that it goes away or assume that only a small minority of people are interested in unions, but this is typically the wrong approach to take. When we learn of potential union activity, our best response is to immediately open a dialogue with our employees.

Our first goal should be to focus on the reasons behind the employee's dissatisfaction with Borders. There may be issues that can be easily addressed or cleared up if we are aware of them. Additionally, many employees have issues which, frankly, can't be helped by unions - if we can help them understand the scope and limitations of what a union can do for them, they may become less interested in a union. Often there is a lack of information or training that can easily be addressed. For instance, some employees feel that a union will help them gain control over the title base or co-op. These are areas that fall under management discretion and we would not be required to bargain on these issues.

Our second goal should be to raise awareness through education of what can be gained or lost by unionization. Talking to employees about the costs of unionization or the duties and obligations of union membership can bring some perspective to the situation. For instance, if union dues are $22 per month, employees would need to negotiate (on average) a thirteen cent raise just to break even on the union dues themselves before they even saw any difference in their take home pay. If a union were able to negotiate a twenty-five cent raise for employees, they would get an additional $500 a year - $260 of that would go to union dues, leaving $240 for the employee - before taxes.

Raising awareness about the specific unions in question can also be enlightening. Anytime we are afraid to speak about unions, we give our employees the impression that there must be something of value to them in a union and therefore encourage their activity to continue.

How Should I Communicate With My Employees?

Full Staff Meetings - You can bring up the union issue at a full staff meeting and talk about the challenges that the company faces. At such a meeting, you could make a statement about why you don't feel that a union is in the best interest of our employees, explain our position on unions, and answer their questions or address their issues. If you decide to do this, please discuss the issues with your RD or an Employee Relations Representative in HR first.

Small Group Meetings - Small group meetings are often the most effective means of conveying your thoughts on the issue of unionization. There are not legal prohibitions against an employer speaking to groups of employees, even if this has not been a regular management practice. Employees may not be aware of Borders' position on unions. They may not understand the facts. We must state our position clearly. When you are questioned about issues that you are unclear on, you should not attempt to answer the question. Tell your employees that you will find out the answer and get back to them. Then make sure that you get back to them.

One-on-One Discussions - General Managers and Assistant Managers should engage in discussions with employees to state their opinions and the company's position on unions. They should also offer to answer questions if the employee wants to ask them. Although you cannot ask questions of your employees, you can tell them what you think. You can also explain to employees that you are legally restricted from asking them questions, but would be happy to listen to their thoughts or answer any questions that they may have.

Early Signs of Union Activity

Recognizing the Early Signs of Union Activity

1. Employees who usually talk to management about their concerns and issues no longer choose to do so.

2. Employees gather in small groups of twos and threes and immediately halt their conversations when managers approach.

3. Employees start gathering to talk in areas that are off the beaten path.

4. Employees start spending more than their normal or allotted time on break and are often late getting back to work.

5. Employees who are not normally seen talking to one another begin associating more regularly. Strange alliances begin to form.

6. Employees start having regular meetings or bar nights without inviting managers, back office employees, trainers, or lead clerks.

7. The nature of employee complaints changes and the frequency increases.

8. Managers start getting an inordinate amount of critical and probing questions concerning policies and/or benefits.

9. The tone of discussion becomes more and more argumentative with frequent references to "the Company."

10. Group complaints start to surface. Employees approach management in groups or via petitions.

11. A new leader emerges from the staff.

12. Employees seem to be divided into two groups. Hostility may begin to surface between employees.

13. There may be a change in the rate of employee turnover.

14. New vocabulary may creep into employees conversations. Union terms such as seniority, grievance, bumping, job security, job posting, etc. may appear in conversations. Normal break time and lunchroom conversations may shift from the personal to talk of benefits, pay, job security, company direction.

15. Items may be posted on bulletin boards or placed in employee mailboxes (often not put in manager boxes) which discuss union news, information about union efforts in other Borders stores, information from the Internet on the IWW, UFCW or other unions. Cartoons and notes which take shots at the company or at the managers start appearing.

How Unions Organize

Unions will often approach employees to encourage them to seek representation. I n many of our stores, the IWW has approached employees with flyers encouraging them to seek union representation. In some cases, our employees will seek out union organizers. In either case, employees will be encouraged to keep their activities a secret from their managers. Union organizers typically want to keep a very low profile until they get a majority of the staff to sign union authorization cards. By staying beneath management's radar on the union issue, they hope to keep managers from sharing information with staff that might dissuade them from signing a card.

Usually, a small group of employees will form a committee to organize the organization effort. They will be the key people involved in attempting to get their co-workers to sign union authorization cards and will probably be the first people to talk to your employees about the perceived benefits of unionization.

Union Authorization Cards

A union authorization card is a signed statement from an employee that he /she wants the union to be his/her bargaining agent for the purposes of collective bargaining with the company. The union authorization card is legally binding on the employee, despite any claims the union may make to the contrary. Union authorization cards legally authorize a union to represent an employee for the purposes of collective bargaining with an employer.

There are three things a union can do with the cards which it collects:

1. If the union gets cards signed by 30% of the employees in an appropriate voting unit (i.e. within a store), it can petition the NLRB for an election.

2. If the union gets cards signed by 50% of the employees in an appropriate voting unit, it may request that we directly recognize the union as the bargaining agent of our employees without an election. We would always choose to decline recognition because we prefer to allow our employees the opportunity to make an informed choice via secret ballot election. If we decline, the union could engage in a recognitional strike.

3. If the union gets cards signed by over 50% of the employees and we commit serious unfair labor practices, the union can ask the Labor Board to issue a bargaining order directing Borders, Inc. to recognize the union and bargain with the union without an election.

Thus, it is important to take seriously any word of card signing activity. If card signing can be halted before the union gets the 30% legally required, the union cannot file an election petition. Obviously, the likelihood of #3 happening is very slim. But people should know the facts. #2 happens all the time - Borders always refuses to recognize the union without an election, however.

If employees want to get their cards back after they learn the facts, you should explain to them that they should write a letter to the union. The letter should state unambiguously that the employee no longer wishes to be represented by the union and wants their card returned. Employees can only request their cards back before the petition is filed.

A manager may inform employees of their rights to revoke their cards, without waiting until an employee has asked for this information. You may tell employees verbally or through a memo about how to revoke their cards, but you should not monitor the results of such information sharing. You may share with employees the addresses of the union and the NLRB, but you may not write letters for them to send.

Union authorization cards may be significant for other reasons:

- a union may attempt to induce employees to sign union authorization in exchange for a waiver of the initiation fee if employees sign before the election - an employee may be told that signing a union card is simply a request for more information about the union or the process (false)

- an employee may be told that he/she must sign a card in order to vote in the election (false)

- union organizers may tell employees that a majority of their co-workers have already signed cards, regardless of the veracity of that statement, to encourage employees to sign a card.

- signing a union authorization cards is like giving the union a "blank check" to negotiate on behalf of the employee

- unions can call a strike for recognition

- an employee who has signed a union authorization card is then compelled to go out on strike, even if he or she has changed their mind about the union

Unions

We have primarily dealt with two unions thus far - the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW).

Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)

The IWW is the union we first faced in Philadelphia. They are a small union (less than 1,000 members nationwide) and are more of a political organization than a practical union. They have attempted to organize our employees in several locations as well as being the primary force behind the campaign to leaflet our stores to protest the separation of Miriam Fried.

The IWW (also known as the Wobblies) was founded in 1905. The IWW refers to itself as One Big Union. They are committed to building a "strong, militant union" in their own words. They are headquartered in Ypsilanti, MI with offices in San Francisco, NYC, and Philadelphia. Fred Chase, IWW General Secretary says, "If you have a sort of leftist, progressive political outlook and feel a need to be a part of a union - the Wobs are it." Another member stated the IWW belief that "There should be an abundance for workers and nothing for the parasites, the parasites being the bosses, those who dictate the conditions of our labor and our lives."

They have a long history including the Colorado miners and Big Bill Haywood in 1905, Joe Hill and the Bread and Roses Strike in Lawrence, MA.

The IWW of today encourages "direct action" which is defined in A Workers' Guide to Direct Action as "any action taken in the work place which cripples the boss's profit-making and forces the company to give in to the worker's demands."

Preamble to the IWW Constitution

"The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of the working people and the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things of life. Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the means of production, abolish the wage system, and live in harmony with the Earth.

We find that the centering of the management of industries into fewer and fewer hands makes the trade unions unable to cope with the ever growing power of the employing class. The trade unions foster a state of affairs which allws one set of workers to be pitted against another set of workers in the same industry, thereby helping defeat one another in wage wars. Moreover, the trade unions aid the employing class to mislead the workers into the belief that the working class have interests in common with their employers. These conditions can be changed and the interests of the working class upheld only by an organization formed in such a way that all members in any one industry, or in all industries if necessary, cease work whenever a strike or lockout is on in any department thereof, thus making an injury to one an injury to all.

Instead of the conservative motto, "A fair day's wage for a fair day's work," we must inscribe on our banner the revolutionary watchword, "Abolition of the wage system." It is the historic mission of the working class to do away with capitalism. "

United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW - AFL-CIO)

The UFCW is the union which we are primarily dealing with at this point. They attempted to organize #01 and are trying to organize #101. In addition, they appear to have targeted other stores and the Harrisburg warehouse in an effort to get them to organize.

The UFCW is primarily the merger of two former unions, the Retail Clerks International Union and the Amalgamated Meatcutters and Butcher Workmen. The UFCW has more than 1.4 million members nationwide. The UFCW primarily represents employees in supermarkets, hardware stores, warehouses, department stores and other service and retail industries.

The UFCW is a big business - the International Union has fifty-two vice-presidents alone - most paid more than $100,000 a year. The president makes over $250,000 a year. These salaries come solely from union member dues.

The UFCW employs individuals known as Business Representatives who work with employees as well as investigate contract violations, grievances, and police the contract. They also "audit" employers records to ensure that new employees have applied for union membership. Additionally, they utilize a union steward who can be elected by the employees or appointed by the Business Representative.

Preamble to the UFCW Constitution

"Because the history of workers has been but the record of constant struggle against oppression by the wealthy and powerful: And because wealth, with its accompanying power, is becoming more and more concentrated in the hands of the few;

And because the organization of workers into trade unions is essential to the economic, social and political freedom of society and to the successful functioning of a democracy;

And because in union there is strength and workers are better able collectively to secure their fair share of the profits accruing from their toil;

This International Union is created in order to elevate the social and economic status of workers and, further, to advance the principles and practice of freedom and democracy for all."

The Employer's Response

In several cases, the first interaction our employees have had with union organizers has been when various stores have been leafleted by members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), protesting the separation of Miriam Fried. The IWW has actively targeted our stores for protest and have a pproached our employees with leaflets which encourage them to organize. It's important that managers know how to respond when this happens.

How to Respond to Leafleting in Your Store

The information contained on the IWW leaflets is misleading and in many cases erroneous. The language is inflammatory, encouraging employees to unionize and customers to boycott Borders.

We have limited ability to stop these actions because of free speech rights. We can prevent the leafletters from blocking public access to our stores. If any leafletters block access to your doors, you should contact security or the local police department. In some cases, you can move them to the edge of the lease line. They are not allowed to leaflet in our stores and if they attempt to do so, you should ask them to leave the store. You can call the police or security to have them removed from the store.

Mass picketing by groups of individuals who obstruct free public access to the premises can be controlled by a court order specifying the maximum number of pickets and the distance from the door which they must maintain. In most cases, we have not been picketed by a large enough group or often enough to make a court order necessary or feasible. Additionally, court orders tend to only draw more attention to the pickets. Acts of violence, name calling, threats, and other such intimidation can also be controlled by a court order. Contact Anne Kubek (VP of HR) or Vin Altruda (Senior VP of Retail Operations) before pursuing such action however. In most cases, asking them to maintain clear access for our customers is sufficient. If they do not maintain clear access, you can call security or the police to clear the entrance.

Regardless of whether or not your store is leafleted by the IWW, you should be prepared to discuss the union situation with your staff. It is important that when you do so, you follow company policies, legal guidelines and common sense. Don't be afraid to address the situation, however. Managers have rights in this process, too!

The Manager's Role in Maintaining a Fair and Legal Environment

Employees Rights, Management's Rights

It is important to remember that, at all times, you represent the company to the employees who work for you directly. They will take your words and actions as the view of Borders, Inc. Borders will be legally responsible for your actions, regardless of whether they have been authorized or not. It is important that you not engage in activity which may be considered interference in employees' rights to freely choose or reject a union.

Employees have legally protected rights under the National Labor Relations Act. These rights include the right to discuss wages, benefits, and terms and conditions of employment. Employees have the right to engage in solicitation of other employees as long as they do not solicit during working time, or time when an employee is required to perform job duties. Thus, employees can engage in such discussions or solicitations on breaks or during non-working hours.

The NLRB holds that retail stores can limit their employees from engaging in union activity in the store's customer areas. Thus, we can limit their discussions to non-working time and we can limit such discussions to take place in the break room or outside of the store. Customer areas include the sales floor, customer elevators, escalators, stairways and corridors.

This law states that employers cannot terminate an employee for engaging in union activity. Borders has and will continue to adhere to all state and federal laws which protect employee's rights. An employee who believes that there has been a violation of the law can file a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Prior to separating any employee from the company, you must contact one of the Employee Relations Representatives in the Human Resources department.

Unions often invite companies to interfere in unionizing activity in a variety of ways, using union organizers from within to lead managers into inappropriate actions or statements. They can cause managers to unwittingly commit unfair labor practices. They may then attempt to use this unfair labor practice to have the NLRB declare an election to be void (if they lose) or to appear as the hero and champion of workers' rights.

Unions appeal not only to those who make low wages but also to those with good wages and benefits whose employment is not covered by a contract. Often, employee dissatisfaction can be traced not to wages or benefits, but to their feelings about how the company or the management team treats them. Union interest can grow if employees feel that they are not being treated fairly or with respect. Also, some employees simply believe that they should have a contract to guarantee their benefits and protect themselves from the company. Some employees believe that unionization is desirable in the workplace, regardless of working conditions.

The basic rule of conduct for managers is to maintain normal day-to-day relations with your employees. You should never use threatening or intimidating tactics, or in any way deviate from normal enforcement of company or store policy. Additionally, you should continue to try to involve employees in problem solving at the store level and seek their input on store or company policies and procedures. The key is to really listen to their concerns and suggestions.

If you are faced with a situation where one of your managers encourages employees to join a union, you should immediately call one of the Employee Relations Representatives to discuss this. A manager is an agent of the employer and as such, can bind the company by his or her actions/statements. To an employee, support on the part of a manager can be interpreted as employer support, which violates Section 8(a)(2) of the National Labor Relations Act which makes it an unfair labor practice for an employer to "dominate or interfere with the formation or administration of any labor organization or contribute financial or other support to it." A manager engaging in such activity should be instructed to cease such behavior immediately.

The union may ask you for an opportunity to discuss alleged complaints regarding employee grievances. You are not required to comply with the union's request until and unless it becomes the designated representative of the employees. Until the union is recognized voluntarily or designated by the NLRB as the employee's representative, the employer is not required to bargain with the union on any subject.

If a union representative contacts you directly:

  • Do NOT look at any list of employees that a union rep attempts to give you.
  • Do NOT look at any cards or letters with names on them.
  • Do NOT look at any papers that they attempt to hand you.

Refer any phone call, letter or personal visit by a union representative to Anne Kubek, Vice President of Human Resources or, in her absence, to Jim Lathrop, Director of Employee Relations. If the union representative refuses to leave your premises, ask them to leave, then contact security or the police to have them removed from your premises. If you cannot get them to leave the store, move to a more private area (away from customers and staff) and make sure that there are at least two representatives from management present during any discussion. Get the name and affiliation of the union representative (their business card if possible). Ask them to state their business. If he/she indicates that his/her union represents a majority of your employees, you should immediately state that you do not believe the union represents a majority of the employees.

If the union representative produces a stack of union authorization cards do NOT accept them or look at them. If the union representative attempts to hand them to you, refuse to accept them. If there is not a witness present call one immediately to witness the refusal. If you look at the cards, the union may try to claim that you have accepted them.

Accepting cards may, in some circumstances, result in the loss of our right to gain a secret ballot election. It can be used to claim recognition since you now know who has signed cards and therefore theoretically supports the union. It may cause the NLRB to order us to bargain directly with the union, without an election.

Frequently, unions will ask for a list of names and addresses of employees. Sometimes they will ask for information about salaries or benefits. Do NOT provide union representatives (including those who may work for Borders) with this information. General Managers should not post employee address lists in the store as employees will often turn these over to union organizers in order to mail things to employees directly.

Can we keep the union off our premises? Yes. It is company policy to limit access to the premises to employees, customers, and vendors. Trespassers are not permitted and can be prosecuted. Non-employee union representatives are not authorized to conduct their business on our premises. Should such outsiders refuse to remove themselves, immediate action should be taken. A manager should escort the individual off the premises; call security or the police if you need assistance. If possible however, avoid having the union representative arrested. Your main concern is simply to remove them from the premises.

Managers, as representatives of the company, may and should express their opinions and make statements regarding unions in general and the particular union specifically, provided they do not threaten employees in regards to union membership or activity. Additionally, you may not reward anti-union activists. Employees cannot be asked about their sympathies, activities or involvement in the union.

Employees may not be disciplined for engaging in union activity. Employees may be disciplined for violating store or company policies and procedures, consistent with your regular performance discussions, regardless of union affiliation. It is important that you discipline your employees consistently and without regard to union or company sympathies. Rules of conduct for all employees should be clearly and consistently communicated and enforced. We strongly recommend that during an organizing campaign or in the face of union activity, you contact the Employee Relations department prior to enforcing any formal disciplinary action on any employee.

Do's and Don'ts

There are some basic and easy rules about what managers can and cannot do in terms of protecting the rights of employees. You can remember this with the easy acronym of SPIT - Managers cannot SPIT.

Here's What You Can't Do
  • Spy - Managers cannot spy on employees' union activity.
  • Promise - Managers cannot promise benefits to employees who vote against the union.
  • Interrogate - Managers cannot ask questions of their employees about unions.
  • Threaten - Managers cannot threaten employees who engage in union activity.

So you can see that what you can't do is pretty simple - and three out of the four things you can't do, you would not do anyway. The only one you can't do that's hard is the part about asking questions, since it's a normal means of interaction with our employees. However, you can tell them that you can't ask questions but that you are willing to listen if they want to talk about it and are able to answer questions if they have them.

There is an easy way to remember what you can do as well. Managers can be a FOE.

Here's What You Can - And Should - Do
  • Facts - Managers can give facts about unions.
  • Opinion - Managers can give their personal opinions about unions.
  • Examples - Managers can give real-life personal examples about experience with unions.

So you can see that the range of what you can do is HUGE! And the list of what you can't do is really pretty small.

What Can/Should Managers Do?

1. Keep union organizers from soliciting on the store premises.
2. Clearly articulate the positive benefits (tangible and intangible) that our employees currently enjoy (including higher rate of pay than other retailers, better than national average raises, positive work environment, opportunities for promotion, etc.)
3. Make sure that your employees understand the significance of signing a union authorization card and realize that they do not need to sign a card in order to vote in an election.
4. Be clear with employees about the potential negatives associated with union membership (including potential strikes, dues, fines, loss of flexible open environment, etc.)
5. Talk with employees about how you would prefer to deal directly with them rather than a third-party.
6. Tell employees why you don't believe that a union would be a good thing in our environment.
7. Share your own personal union experiences (if you have them).
8. Make sure that employees understand that no union can guarantee anything (they can make empty promises however). No union can obtain more than the employer is willing or able to give.
9. Compare our wages/benefits to other unionized or non-unionized companies to show how we compare favorably.
10. Clarify any incorrect, untrue or misleading statements made by union organizers. Give employees the correct facts.
11. Distribute information about unions in general or facts about the specific union you may be dealing with.
12. Reply to union attacks on company policies, procedures or benefits.
13. Advise employees of their legal rights, so long as you do not encourage or finance an employee suit or legal action.
14. Insist that any solicitation of membership (by either employees or outside organizers) be conducted outside of working time (i.e. when they are on break or off the clock). Keep union organizers who are not Borders employees out of backroom areas.
15. Treat union and non-union employees alike.
16. Tell employees that they are free to join or not join the union so far as their status with Borders is concerned.

What Should Managers NOT Do?

1. Attend union meetings or engage in any undercover activity which implies surveillance of employee union activity.
2. Terminate or discipline employees for engaging in union activity.
3. Ask employees about union matters, meetings, etc. Ask employees about their opinions of the union or union organizers. You may listen if they choose to tell you but you cannot ask.
4. Ask employees how they intend to vote. Ask employees' opinions on how they think other employees may vote.
5. Give financial support to a union or to employees, regardless of their union sympathies.
6. Announce that Borders, Inc. will not deal with a union.
7. Ask an employee, during an interview, about his/her affiliation with a labor organization.
8. Discriminate against pro-union employees when disciplining, assigning schedules or sections, etc.
9. Treat union and non-union employees differently over the same issue.
10. Deviate from Borders' policies for the purpose of getting rid of a pro-union person.
11. Threaten a union member through a third party.
12. Make statements to employees that unionization will force Borders to lay off employees, take away benefits or close a store.
13. Start a petition against the union or encourage participation in such a petition if started by employees.
14. Visit the homes of employees to urge them to reject the union.

Points of Discussion

Here are some topics which may be useful to bring up when talking about unions with employees.
Collective Bargaining
You can explain to employees that collective bargaining is a process of negotiation, a process of give and take. You may point out that through the normal give and take of negotiation, employees may see improvements to their existing benefits, they may see a reduction in benefits or they may find that no change is negotiated. However, telling an employee that they will "start from scratch" during negotiations can be seen as a threat.

Competitive Conditions
You can explain that the company will not commit economic suicide in contract negotiations. You can explain the economic realities of retail and discuss salient points of our business. You can point out that as a book and music retailer, we have limits to what we can afford to negotiate with a union. We sell a product with a clearly labeled suggested retail price (books, which have suggested prices labeled on them) and an intensely competitively priced product (music, which our competitors often price well below our price, sometimes at cost). In most cases, our competitors sell the same items for less than we do already. We cannot up-price books in order to pass the costs of increased benefits or wages for employees on to the customers.
Dues
Although unions often waive initiation fees for in the initial stages of a new union contract, dues can be hefty (up to $22 a month or more) and can go up if raises are negotiated through a contract. Typically, unions attempt to negotiate a "dues checkoff" system where dues (initiation fees and assessments/fines) are automatically removed from an employees' paycheck by the employer and sent to the union.
Existing Benefits
You can discuss current benefits and point out differences between current plans at Borders versus other negotiated union contracts or other book and music retailers. You can point out the economic value of our benefits.
Fines
Unions can impose fines on members for a variety of reasons, usually outlined in their constitution, including not being present at union meetings, attempting to decertify the union, being disruptive at union meetings, refusing to honor a picket line (even for a strike at another business), filing an unfair labor charge against a union, etc. Union fines are legal debts, collectible in court.
Grievance Rights
Unions promise a formal grievance procedure which often appeals to employees. You should point out that Borders has always been an open door policy company and encourage employees to recognize the value inherent in a policy that allows them to raise issues directly with their manager, general manager, regional director, employee relations representative, any vice-president or the president of the company.
Guaranteed Wage Increases/Benefits
Unions can promise wage increases or specific improvements to benefits, however, these promises cannot be guaranteed. Managers should point out Borders' consistent history on wages and solid benefits plans. For instance, over the last three years, Borders has regularly given out 4.5% annual average raises. Last year, first-time union negotiated contracts averaged a 3% raise. The national average raise last year was 2.9%. The point is that there is no guarantee - collective bargaining is unpredictable. Encourage employees to ask union representatives for a signed, notarized, legally enforceable guarantee of their promises - the union won't and can't do it.
"Nothing to Lose" Mentality
Union supporters will often tell their co-workers that they have "nothing to lose" by voting in a union. This is false. Every wage provision and benefit is subject to change through the process of collective bargaining and could possibly be reduced as a result of negotiations. Additionally, employees would possibly give up direct interaction with their managers and be forced to take their grievances to a shop steward - someone they may not know, like or trust - to represent them to management.
Seniority Rules
Unions often argue that length of service should entitle individuals to receive promotions. It is important to point out that we have historically tried to hire the best and most capable individuals for jobs, rather than relying solely on length of service as a determining factor. When you have a lot of newer employees who hope to move up, seniority is often seen as an impediment to their ability to advance quickly within the company.
Strikes
You can discuss the possibility of strikes occurring and that a strike is the union's chief means of pressure on an employer during collective bargaining. You can also point out that strikes may entail certain consequences for employees. However, we do not want to lead employees to believe that a strike is an inevitable result of unionization. Factual discussion of strikes is lawful, but we don't want to cause employees to take our discussions as threatening.
Written Contract
A major selling point for unions is the promise of the security of a written contract for employees. This has been particularly true in our company due to the "at will" statement in our handbook. Our clear statement of being an "at will" employer is a legal definition which distinguishes us from being a contractual employer - it does not dictate our behavior on how we deal with our employees however. We have a clearly defined progressive discipline process and ask all managers to contact Human Resources prior to separating an employee. We do not fire employees without cause. A contract will not protect under-performers however.

Union Demand for Recognition

Union representatives may approach a manager and tell him or her that they represent a majority of the employees. They may request that the employer recognize the union and offer to prove majority authorization by a card check. Managers should decline to allow this happen as the NLRB may order the company to recognize the union and bargain with them without an election.

Unions often contact employers demanding recognition without an election (this happened in all three union drives we have gone through thus far). We have declined recognition because we want our employees to have the opportunity to decide in a secret ballot election. We also want an opportunity to present our views on unions in Borders.

A union will then file a petition.

Filing of a Petition/Determining Representation

Unions must have signed authorization cards from at least thirty percent of the eligible staff in order to file a petition. They typically don't file unless they have fifty, sixty or seventy percent, however.

Filing a petition will result in the NLRB contacting the employer to inform them that an election will be held, usually held six to eight weeks after the petition is filed. Once we receive notice of a petition being filed, we inform our employees of that fact.

The NLRB will ask both parties to come to an agreement on the voting unit, definition of supervisory status, and voter eligibility, as well as an agreement on the date of election. We typically seek to have the election held as late as possible to allow sufficient time to meet with the employees and share information with them which will help them make an informed decision. Typically the union has been making its sales pitch for weeks or even months to the employees.

A voting unit is the group of employees eligible to vote in the election. In each case, the union and the company attempt to come to an agreement on the voting unit. If they disagree, there would be an NLRB hearing to determine the voting unit. The voting unit was defined in both Philadelphia and Ann Arbor as all the employees who were on the payroll when the petition was filed except for the General Manager and Assistant Managers (i.e. including back office employees and the CRC).

There is a potential debate over inclusion of part-time employees (they have been included in the voting unit in the first two union elections) and contingent employees (ditto).

Supervisors are excluded from the voting unit. In our first two elections, the only people defined as supervisors have been the General and Assistant Managers. The NLRA defines a supervisor as "any individual having authority, in the interest of the employer, to hire, transfer, suspend, lay off, recall, promote, discharge, assign, reward, or discipline other employees, or responsibly to direct them, or to adjust their grievances, or effectively to recommend such action, if in connection with the foregoing the exercise of such authority is not of a merely routine or clerical nature, but requires the use of independent judgment."

Once the voting unit has been defined, the employer must turn over to the Board, a list of employee's names and addresses, known as the Excelsior list. The NLRB then makes this information available to the union which, in turn, can then visit employees at home (which managers cannot do) or send them information at home.

Elections

At least thirty percent of the employees in an appropriate unit must have given signed authorization cards to the union in order for the NLRB to authorize an election. An employee who signs a union card is NOT required to vote for the union in an election. He or she can change his/her mind for any reason. Employees who do not sign cards are STILL eligible to vote if they are in the voting unit, regardless of the fact that they did not sign a union card. Elections are held by secret ballot and no one will ever know how anyone voted (unless there is a unanimous vote of course).

Elections are typically held in the store, in an area convenient to employees, but not in a supervisor's office. In order to be eligible to vote, employees must be employed in the voting unit during the payroll period ending immediately prior to the NLRB approval of the election agreement and must be employed on the date of the election. Employees on leave are eligible to vote. There are no absentee ballots however.

To win an election, the union would need to garner 50% + 1 of the votes cast. For example, there were 71 eligible voters in #01. If everyone voted, 36 votes would win the election for either side. However, if only 34 employees chose to vote, then 18 votes would win the election. Regardless of how many employees vote, all employees in the bargaining unit (or in a position covered by the bargaining unit agreement) would be represented by the union if the union were to win the election.

We strongly encourage all eligible employees to vote in the election, regardless of whether they support the union or not. Since all members of the bargaining unit will be affected if a union is voted in, it is important that each employee have a voice in the election process. Not voting tends to benefit the union because they then need fewer votes to win.

Votes are tallied after the election process and the results are made known immediately, pending any challenges from either side.

Bargaining orders without election

Under certain circumstances, a company can be ordered to bargain with a union which has obtained authorization cards from a majority of its employees, even without a secret ballot election. This is usually only true when a company commits numerous, serious unfair labor practices or if they recognize the union by accepting cards.

Post-Election/Decertification

Regardless of the outcome of the election, we must strive to keep our communications open and to continue to run our business in a fair, ethical and responsible manner. Whichever side loses the election is likely to feel disappointed, of course. It is important that managers maintain an above-board approach when discussing the union and the outcome of the election. If we win the election, we should not gloat, but should focus on moving forward together to resolve issues. We must be sure to keep our eyes focused on dealing with the types of issues raised during the election campaign. Regular communication must continue.

Objections to the outcome of an election must be filed within seven days after the election. Objections can be raised on the conduct of the election or on conduct which affects the results of an election. If no objections are raised, the NLRB will certify the election and send both parties confirmation of the election results.

The National Labor Relations Act allows employees the right to decertify their union through an election process similar to that which allowed the union into the workplace. The union must receive a majority of votes cast in order to retain certification. A tie results in decertification.

A decertification petition must be filed by the employees, not management , and must be supported by at least thirty percent of the employees. Managers may not initiate or assist in the preparation of the petition. They may however, provide employees with the address of the NLRB if they request advice on how to decertify the union.

A decertification petition can be filed:
- one year after an election which certifies a union if a contract has not been negotiated
- between the ninetieth and sixtieth day prior to the expiration of an existing contract
- after a contract has expired if it is not renewed or extended


Workshops

Can I Say It?

One of the challenging aspects of labor relations is the question of what you are allowed to say and do. The NLRB attempts to balance two significant rights: your right to freedom of speech and the employees right to form, join, or assist a labor organization or refrain from doing so, without coercion or interference. This problem is most significant when managers want to tell their employees, either in writing or orally, the disadvantages of becoming involved in or joining a union.

Please read the following statements and indicate whether the statement is proper and legal for you to make - or not.

1. Borders won't permit a union in one of its stores.

Legal
Illegal

2. Our benefits may not necessarily continue as they are under a union contract. You could get more, you could get the same or you could get less.

Legal
Illegal

3. Your pay is good and Borders is an excellent place to work. I personally feel that this union cannot do any better for you.

Legal
Illegal

4. No union, this one or any other one, can obtain more for you than Borders is willing to agree to give.

Legal
Illegal

5. You better think twice about signing a union card. Sooner or later we're going to find out who signed cards and we'll do something about it.

Legal
Illegal

6. This is our store and we don't allow any union activity on these premises.

Legal
Illegal

7. People who are supporting this union are in for a big surprise.

Legal
Illegal

8. If the union wins the election, we are going to cut staff levels.

Legal
Illegal

9. Vote against the union and we will match whatever the union promises you.

Legal
Illegal

10. Jim, I want to talk to you about the union.

Legal
Illegal

11. Pete, the rumor is that some of the staff signed union cards at a union meeting last night. Were you at the meeting? Do you know who signed cards?

Legal
Illegal

12. I'm going to make it my personal objective to get you as much information about this union as possible. If you have any questions about the union you want answered, please feel free to come to me and ask them.

Legal
Illegal

13. I personally feel this union is comprised of people who don't understand the implications of bringing a third-party into our store. I believe it's an irresponsible action for people who don't intend to stay with the company long-term.

Legal
Illegal

14. Unions are a big business - they just want your money.

Legal
Illegal

15. I don't care what the union told you. The law is clear on the fact that Borders must bargain in good faith if the union is voted in. However, we are not required to agree to any union demands and we will not agree to anything that is not in the best interest of the company and its employees.

Legal
Illegal

16. Tell the union people to put their promises in writing with an accompanying guarantee that they will get you everything they are promising. If they won't back up their promises they are worthless.

Legal
Illegal

17. Andrea, I'd like you to keep me informed as to what is going on with the union.

Legal
Illegal

18. I'm telling you, we're just not going to deal with this union. You can vote any way you want to but if it gets in here, we'll just close this store down.

Legal
Illegal

19. This union had a seven month strike at the local grocery store last year. They ended up replacing all the strikers with permanent replacement s. It's possible that the same thing could happen here.

Legal
Illegal

19. This union had a seven month strike at the local grocery store last year. They ended up replacing all the strikers with permanent replacement s. It's possible that the same thing could happen here.

Legal
Illegal

20. You don't need the union putting it's hand in your wallet. Vote against the union and keep your $20 a month.

Legal
Illegal

21. Cindy, if the union gets in here, there will be no more overtime.

Legal
Illegal

22. Laura, I know that we were scheduled to give raises this month, but because of the union election, we can't do that now.

Legal
Illegal

23. You should know what Borders' position is on this issue. We do not think that a union is in the best interest of the company, the employees or our customers.

Legal
Illegal

24. This union has had several lengthy strikes where the union has ended up having to settle for the company's original offer, getting nothing more for the employees than what they already had. It could happen here.

Legal
Illegal

25. Just because you signed a union authorization card does not mean that you have to vote for the union.

Legal
Illegal

26. Of course you get to vote regardless of whether you signed a card or not.

Legal
Illegal

27. Borders is in a very competitive business situation. Unions cannot eliminate the economic realities we must face. We will manage the business the way we need to in order to remain profitable.

Legal
Illegal

28. Look, Benita - vote against the union and I will see to it that you are made Chairperson of the new Employee Grievance Committee that we plan to form after the election is certified.

Legal
Illegal


Protected Activity Workshop

Rich is an Assistant Manager. Suddenly a bookseller comes into the office and says that cafe staff are milling around the cafe and refusing to work. Apparently they are upset over a new policy about serving co-workers. The bookseller wonders what can be done.

Since the employees are non-union, there is no union contract governing, and there has been no union organizing activity in the store, Rich thinks the employees have no right to engage in this work stoppage. This is in violation of the employee handbook. Rich goes out to the cafe and tells the employees that their conduct is inappropriate and that they must return to work immediately or be subject to discipline.

1. Is Rich correct?

Most of the employees then return to work. However, two are still refusing to work and have moved out to the parking lot. Rich goes out to talk to them and they tell him that they want to present grievances. Rich tells them to wait until the General Manager comes in that afternoon. When they refuse, he again warns them that if they don't go back to work, they'll be written up on a Performance Discussion Record. When they again refuse, Rich suspends them with pay, pending investigation by the GM. A few days later, these employees are discharged.

2. Was Rich correct in refusing to hear their grievances?

3. Was the General Manager correct in discharging these employees for refusing to work?

Things seem to settle down after this incident and all goes smoothly for a few weeks. Rich is again in the office when the back office line rings. This time, the remaining employees are refusing to do some, but not all, of their job duties. They are willing to wait on customers, but refuse to clean up the tables. Rich goes to the cafe and tells the employees that they must perform all their usual job duties or be subject to a PDR. This behavior lasts for the entire shift. A few days later, all the cafe staff who participated are written up for insubordination.

4. Was this protected or unprotected activity?

5. Were Rich's warnings justified?

Excerpts From THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS ACT

Section 8(c)

The expressing of any views, argument or opinion, or the dissemination thereof, whether in written, printed, graphic, or visual form, shall not constitute or be evidence of an unfair labor practice under any provisions of this Act, if such expression contains no threat of reprisal or force or promise of benefit.

Section 8(d)

For the purposes of this section, to bargain collectively is the performance of the mutual obligation of the employer and the representative of the employees to meet at reasonable times and confer in good faith with respect to wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment or the negotiation of an agreement, or any question arising thereunder, and the execution of a written contract incorporating any agreement reached if requested by either party, but such obligation does not compel either party to agree to a proposal or require the making of a concession.

Definitions

Bargaining Unit - the group of employees covered by a contract.

Collective Bargaining - defined as the mutual obligation of the employer and the representative of the employees to confer in good faith with respect to wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment.

Concerted Activity - two or more employees discussing wages, benefits and terms or conditions of employment.

Local or Union Local - A unit of the Union. Locals are responsible for local administration of union policies, and have their own constitutions and officers. They are usually responsible for negotiation and daily administration of any contract.

National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) - A federally established board responsible for monitoring activity related to labor organization and investigating unfair labor practices.

Right to Work State - Refers to a state which bans union shops - i.e. unions are not allowed to have a contract requiring employees to become a member of the union even if they are covered by the contract.

Union Authorization Card - a legal document which authorizes a union to represent an employee for the purposes of collective bargaining

Union Shop - A place in which every worker covered by the contract must be a member of the union. Employees do not have to be a union member prior to hiring, but must join within a certain amount of time (usually thirty to ninety days) as outlined in the contract.

Voting Unit - The group of employees eligible to vote in an NLRB election

Working Time - the period when an employee is required to perform job duties. Non-work time includes lunches, scheduled breaks, time before or after a shift, and time waiting in line to punch out, even if an employee is being paid by the employer for any such time.

Other pages of interest: