© 2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
Living with a Union
Having a union at your facility is certainly not tantamount to the end of the world.
Many companies have had a unionized workforce for many years. In a lot of these
cases, the relations between company and the union are businesslike and often
mutually benecial. On the other hand, some relationships are characterized by
mistrust, rancor, and constant bickering. Which one of these relationships you
have may be largely out of your control. Although it is possible to repair a damaged
relationship, it is dicult and takes a long time.
My experience is that most relationships sour because of a lack of trust.
It has often occurred to me that the company–union relationship is more akin
to an unhappy marriage (in many ways) than it is to a normal business relation-
ship. at is, the parties are often stuck with each other for better or for worse.
If a company you do business with overcharges or cheats you, you merely cease
doing business and go to someone else. Not so in a union relationship. You may
feel that the union has taken advantage of you. e union may feel that you have
taken advantage of it. e problem is you can’t just walk away. You must work
through your problems in an honest and forthright way. You should never lie or
mislead. is is not to say you have to bare your soul and give away company
secrets or strategy. If the union asks a question you do not want to answer, tell
the union it’s none of its business (or maybe something gentler) rather than make
Unions do not expect the company to agree with them all the time. Unions do
not expect the company to do things that are detrimental to it just to please the
union. Unions do not expect the company to “give away the candy store”; in fact,
unions do not want that. A viable, protable company is just as much in the interest