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NLRB Rules Changes Could Tilt Balance of Power

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, August 1, 2011

"The unions' approach is to surprise the employers with a petition and have the elections in a few weeks before the employer has had a chance to react," he says. "With quicker elections it is easier to get a group of employees revved up about an emotional issue and have an election in two or three weeks. The employers disadvantage is about communicating the rest of the story." 

If the proposed rules are approved, Trivisonno says, employers must be even more vigilant and proactive about communicating their arguments against unionization to employees, even doing so ahead of any organizing effort. If you wait until you get a notice of election, it's probably already too late.  

"The way that employers prepare for organizing drives and the way they conduct counter union organizing campaign is going to be very different under these regulations," Trivisonno says. "If you have a large acute-care facility, to get a letter drafted, approved, run through legal, operations and public relations sometimes can take a week. You may have nurses who only work once or twice a week. How do you communicate with these people? The unions can make claims that don't have to be accurate and the employer has to correct them."

"So, to the extent you can, you should have those documents done in advance and your positions thought out should you receive a petition," he says.

More and more, he says, social media, including Web sites, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and employee intranet portals are going to play a critical role in getting the message out. "The unions are well ahead of most employers on that, way ahead, because that is where the battle is going to be fought down the road," Trivisonno says. "National Nurses United and Service Employees International Union have been out front on that for years, but a lot of employers, a lot of consultants, don't get it yet."

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