Since the recession hit at the end of 2007, and as people become more concerned with job security, the prospect of unionization in the restaurant industry has grown.
“Only 22 percent of the disengaged employees [surveyed] said they would not vote for a union,” says Don MacPherson, president of Modern Survey. “If disengagement continues to rise, we expect the desire to unionize to grow right along with it.”
David C. Whitlock, a partner at Elarbee, Thompson, Sapp & Wilson LLP, says union efforts are increasing, but it is not due to the economy. “The increase in unionization efforts is directly tied to the current administration’s pro-labor policies and administration of roles by the [Department of Labor] and [National Labor Relations Board].”
Unionization typically begins with unhappy employees. TJ Schier, a franchisee of Which Wich, outlines a handful of mistreatments that encourage employees to seek union help: managers who do not treat people fairly or run with a heavy hand; managers who do not provide merit-based increases to performs; and those who do not listen to input from the employees themselves.
“If the business holds up their end of the deal, there should be no need to unionize,” Schier explains.
Furthermore, Whitlock points out that unions can operate undetected and then suddenly surprise the employer with a demand for recognition.
“The best defense is open, effective, two-way communication with employees,” Whitlock says.
MacPherson backs up Whitlock’s assertion with a handful of steps to ensure a lack of interest in unionization begin with the recognition of personal accomplishment:
“Often people are hired because of their experience or skills,” MacPherson says. “Those are important, but making sure that the new hire is a good cultural fit with the organization can be even more important.”
Whitlock, Schier, and MacPherson were panelists at this year’s Dine America conference earlier this week. Food News Media hosted this executive leadership conference in Atlanta.
By Sonya Chudgar
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