The term “union” alone can create a significant amount of stress for employers and large business owners alike. Even though unions now exist in most companies and fields of employment – and have for a long time – it can be an overwhelming matter to deal with for many employers.

So, what should employers know if their employees begin efforts to unionize?

Employers must know what they cannot do

Employees have a federal right to form or join a union. Although unions do not generally threaten businesses, it is essential that California employers understand what they can and cannot do in these cases.

For example, employers cannot:

  1. Discriminate against or threaten employees involved in union activities;
  2. Offer benefits, such as more health benefits or higher wages, for the sole purpose of persuading employees not to unionize;
  3. Prevent employees from exercising certain rights, including joining the union, speaking about union efforts or wearing insignias relating to the union; or
  4. Ask or interrogate employees about union efforts and events.

Engaging in these activities is a violation of the National Labor Relations Act, which could create significant issues for employers and companies.

There are a few actions employers can take

However, there are a few things that employers can do when facing unionizing efforts. In these cases, it is often beneficial to consult legal counsel about how to move forward, but employers should know:

  • They do still have the right to know about any unionizing efforts occurring in their company. For example, although this article pertains to small businesses, the information and rights covered apply to businesses of all sizes;
  • They can provide employees with comparisons of unionized workers’ benefits and nonunionized workers’ benefits; and
  • They can make a statement to employees about current benefits, as well as their perspectives about unionizing and the current work without a union.

Employers can directly state that they hope their employees will not vote in favor of a union. They simply cannot pressure employees or violate any of their rights in the process.