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Employment Blog

Happy New Year (?)

Authored by Dean R. Dietrich
Posted on December 31, 2013
Filed under Employment

This is the time of year that we say "thank you" and "best wishes" to all. On behalf of Ruder Ware, I want to thank all of our clients for the confidence they have shown in our representation. I also want to thank all of the human resource professionals who have spent the year working hard to ensure the success of their organizations and helping employees become productive and valuable to the company. Many things have happened this past year in Wisconsin that have been helpful to employers and future changes, like the unemployment compensation law changes, will also be helpful in 2014.

This is also a time to look forward to the new year. I am afraid that the new year will bring many serious and difficult challenges for employers. Two of the most significant challenges will be the "quickie election" process and the "micro-union" bargaining unit interpretation. Both of these changes will make it easier for unions to organize all or a portion of a company workforce.

The "quickie election" process will likely be re-proposed this spring and will make it far easier for a union to pursue a representation election and limit the time that a company will have to campaign against that union representation petition. Employers will need to be very vigilant about any type of union representation discussion in order to react quickly in what will be a very quick process.

The "micro-union" recognition process will allow a union to petition for representation of a portion of the workforce without having to obtain a successful election amongst the entire company workforce. Petitions may be filed to allow for representation of employees in a particular department or a particular location with far more ease than currently allowed. The new General Counsel for the NLRB has indicated that he will re-issue the rules that will address the right of a union to pursue a limited bargaining unit amongst the entire workforce. This could allow for many small unions pursuing different wage and working-condition requests with the same employer.

All of this means that human resource professionals and company officials need to be highly-attuned to what is happening in the workforce and the potential for union representation activities. It will be a challenging year as unions become empowered to pursue representation of employees with new vigor.