October 16, 2017

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Labor Unions Use Technology to Grow and Maintain Membership

Labor unions today are “tech” savvy, using mobile app and other technology to grow and maintain their memberships.

According to a report in the Bloomberg Bureau of National Affairs Daily Labor Report (136 DLR C-1 July 18, 2016), a number of labor unions, including the International Association of Machinists, Communication Workers of America, and Service Employees International Union, are using app technology to inform members of union news, sign political action petitions, access video clips and pictures, read press releases, view union social media accounts, and report workplace violations, all with the goal of reaching and growing their memberships.

Since labor unions are not generally permitted on an employer’s property to organize, labor unions are attempting to reach more and more workers through the use of their smartphones by mobile app technology and social media platforms, including Facebook, Snapchat, dedicated websites for blogging and reporting alleged workplace misconduct and the like. The use of technology by labor unions coupled with the National Labor Relations Board’s focus on broadening employee rights through the use of technology requires employers to stay ahead of the game.

In recent years, the NLRB also has developed a website to publicize employer labor violations, permitted the use of electronic union authorization cards in order to establish a “showing of interest” in support of the union representation petition, and allowed workers to use an employer’s email system on non-working time to engage in union organizing and other Section 7 (of the NLRA) concerted protected activities. The NLRB also has developed its own app. According to Bloomberg BNA, once it is free of its budget constraints, the NLRB has plans to upgrade the app to allow “workers, employers, and unions to take action from anywhere,” according to NLRB chairman Mark Gaston Pearce.

The use of technology by labor organizations to address labor issues and beef up declining memberships undoubtedly will increase regardless of the industry, labor climate, and overall workplace demographics.

Because of these new techniques, more and more organizing can be done by unions without face-to-face contact with employees. That could make it easier for unions to “meet with” many more employees in a shorter period of time and more effectively. To persuade employees to sign authorization cards who become star struck by the union’s glossy and upbeat electronic organizing tools. Employers should consider taking a preventive approach and informing their employees about these organizing techniques and cautioning employees not to be persuaded by glossy, upbeat organizing tools.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2017

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About this Author

Howard Bloom, Jackson Lewis, labor union attorney, unfair practice investigations lawyer, employment legal counsel, bargaining law
Principal

Howard M. Bloom is a Principal in the Boston, Massachusetts, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He has practiced labor and employment law representing exclusively employers for more than 36 years.

Mr. Bloom counsels clients in a variety of industries on labor law issues. He trains and advises executives, managers and supervisors on union awareness and positive employee relations, and assists employers in connection with union card-signing efforts, traditional union representation and corporate campaigns, and union decertification...

617-367-0025
Chad P. Richter, Jackson Lewis PC, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Attorney
Principal

Chad Richter is a Principal in the Omaha, Nebraska, office of Jackson Lewis P.C.

Mr. Richter’s practice is divided into three areas: (1) preventive counseling and training; (2) traditional labor law; and (3) workplace litigation. With regard to Mr. Richter’s preventive practice, he routinely provides day-to-day advice and counseling to management on a variety of employment law matters including human resource management, traditional labor relations, employment discrimination, wage and hour, privacy, disability leave management, and reductions in force. Mr. Richter routinely assists management in workplace audits, preparing contracts and workplace policies, complex employment investigations and developing and presenting training curriculums on numerous employment and labor law topics. Mr. Richter has developed a host of training models designed to educate all levels of management from front-line supervisors to the most senior executives and board members in the organization. Mr. Richter develops training that is highly interactive, engaging, and educational.

402-827-4233
Philip B. Rosen, Jackson Lewis, Preventive Practices Lawyer, Collective Bargaining Attorney
Principal

Philip B. Rosen is a Principal in the New York City, New York, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He is a member of the firm's Board of Directors and co-leads the firm's Labor and Preventive Practices Group. He joined the firm in 1979 and served as Managing Partner of the New York City office from 1989 to 2009.

Mr. Rosen lectures extensively, conducts management training, and advises clients with respect to legislative and regulatory initiatives, corporate strategies, business ethics, social media, reorganizations and reductions-...

212-545-4000