Collective Bargaining Negotiations
You might be shocked to hear from this business attorney Tulsa that many industries have unionized workers. Unions are independent organizations that represent various areas of labor to ensure workers’ rights are protected. Unions were formed at a time when workers were treated horribly. There were very few standards to ensure safety, workers routinely were exposed to harm, and very few in management did not care.
Today, thankfully, things are different. Most companies now have safety directors who are in charge of making sure that workers are safe. There are also many independent organizations and governmental entities, such as OSHA, who have independent authority to investigate and penalize dangerous practices. And thanks to some very costly lawsuits, most companies have an element of fear motivating them to take the extra time to stay safe and work with a business attorney Tulsa. Most companies want to cooperate with unions today rather than oppose them. Let me give you an example from my own life.
My father works for a local power company in my hometown. In 2007, a horrible ice storm left my hometown powerless for weeks. This meant most linemen worked around the clock to get the power back on. Many neighboring states sent additional crews as assistance given that the crew at the power company faced an overwhelming obstacle. I remember my father recounting the events of those days. He worked 11 days straight. Many folks in our hometown volunteered by cooking meals at the power company. They would prepare breakfasts, pack sack lunches, and then prepare dinners for all the workers. They also did their laundry and even loaded water by placing the jugs onto the trucks. It really was a community effort to get the power back on.
After the damage from the storm was largely undone, some of the workers at the company complained. Now granted I was not part of any of the conversations as I wasn’t a business attorney Tulsa yet. I do not know how many or who complained, and I’m thankful that I do not. But some of them complained that the power company violated the union contract in its provision of meals to the employees. A representative from the union traveled to the power company to meet with management. The CFO and union representative met and reviewed the union contract. The union representative then met with workers to receive their perspective. The union representative concluded that the company did not violate the union contract in its treatment of employees during the ice storm.
Admittedly, the power company nearly bent over backwards to make sure that it gave the workers all the resources it could under the circumstances. Management from the power company was very frustrated as a result of this event. I honestly do not blame them for being frustrated.
I think we can all learn something from this story. If your company employs unionized workers, here are a few steps you can take with your business attorney Tulsa to ensure that your company is not exposed from any sort of retaliation.
First, understand that no matter what you do, someone will inevitably complain that what you did was not enough. The trick is to do what management from the power company did. They got frustrated because they were human and that’s completely fine. But their actions were objective. They contacted the union representative and engaged in no form of backlash to the employees who complained. They were totally cooperative with the investigation with the union representative. This is how you should behave if and when your employees complain. You can be frustrated interpersonally, but make sure your actions reflect a calm, collected state if you need anymore guidance then speak with a business attorney Tulsa.
Second, make sure that you and your management team are familiar with all the terms of the union contract. Most unions engage in annual negotiations with employers to update the terms of the agreement. During those meetings, if possible, have your legal counsel present along with those in management who would make decisions that affect workers. This way, everyone can hear the updates from the union representative.
Third, have regular meetings with management and review the terms of the agreement, make sure these terms are created by business attorney Tulsa. The last thing you want is to have a member of management not know which term or terms apply in critical situations. You could even give quizzes to make sure that your management team knows the terms of the union contract.
Fourth, appoint someone in your management team to serve as ombudsman for your workers. For those who don’t know, an ombudsman is sort of like a human complaint box where workers can anonymously complain for any sort of workplace infraction. The ombudsman then makes a private report for management to review regarding the allegations. The ombudsman can also investigate the issue to discern the veracity of the workers’ complaints.
Fifth, when in doubt, err on the side of generosity and talk to a business attorney Tulsa. Look to the power company that employed my father. They made warm meals for the workers when most of the workers lacked power at their homes. They did laundry to make sure they had clean, warm clothes when it was still snowing and icing outside. They went above and beyond because they cared. And their care ultimately protected them from any type of lawsuit for breach of the union contract. We all know that you care as well. When in doubt, show your care. It may frustrate you when an employee inevitably complains, but it will likely save you from a lawsuit so consult a business attorney Tulsa today if you have concerns.
If you are in a critical situation and unsure how to proceed, contact this business attorney Tulsa at a RC Law Group. I will review the union contract and discuss with you my interpretation of its terms and principles. We can then meet with any disgruntled employee to discern the exact nature of his/her complaints. We can then formulate a plan to ensure that the company’s resources are not stretched too thin and that the company is protected from any type of lawsuit as a result of the breach of the agreement.
Remember, the initial business attorney Tulsa consultation is free. It never hurts to call and have a lawyer who is on your side.