AAY opposes IBT, that’s proof the IBT would benefit employees

This popular argument is a trick. It uses the company’s opposition as proof that the union would benefit employees. It puts the union into the same category as drugs or cigarettes when you were a kid – that stuff you weren’t supposed to do but everybody did anyway. The logic goes that the only reason parents opposed those things was because they were fun – thus the parent’s opposition proved that it was a risk worth taking.

The bad news for the union (and unfortunately for many teenagers) is that sometimes the “parents” are right. Drugs, cigarettes and unions can all be bad for you – and those who oppose them may actually be looking out for your best interests.

The facts? Companies don’t oppose unions because they fear the union will negotiate big wage and benefit increases. That is a silly argument, because that is totally in the company’s control. I guess the union might convince employees that they can trick the company into making improvements that it otherwise wouldn’t agree to. But long term do you really want to work for a company that is that stupid?

The reason companies oppose unions has nothing to do with what they think employees will get. Companies know that so long as they are patient and firm in their resolve they can pretty much negotiate whatever they want into a contract. However, they also know that once a union is voted in they lose their ability to make quick adjustments to market conditions.

Here is the problem. The bargaining process is adversarial and can take months or even years. During that time the company is effectively stuck doing things the way it has always done them in the past. In today’s economy waiting months or a year to implement a change that your non-union competitors can implement immediately can mean the difference between survival and bankruptcy.

Customers also know this about unionized companies – many actually ask their unionized vendors to alert them several months in advance of contract negotiations. Because there is a risk of supply disruptions during contract negotiations, many customers will look for alternate suppliers around this time. This is never a good thing.

This is why companies fight unions so vigorously. Studies suggest that the “dead-weight” loss of a union on an organization is around 20% of the companies overall productivity and profitability. This is not because of wage and benefits increases. Today the gap between union and non-union employees is shrinking, and if you control for regional and industry differences in many cases there is no gap at all.

If you have a vendor that asks about whether your company is unionized, share that fact with
employees. Another great way to make this point is to use articles in your clipping file showing how unionized companies have a hard time surviving today. Explain that THIS is the real reason you oppose the union.