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Human Relations Management and Unions in Modern Society Case Study

A new construction company is opening in Cape Breton Island. They plan to build a new factory for three years, and it will cost a lot of money to complete the project. The owner of the company must hire different specialists in the field, and he uses advertisements to seek for construction workers in Canada. The work begins, and the workers must work seven days a week and ten to twelve hours every day.

Some workers complain about the conditions because they need time to see family, and they need days off while being sick. They talk about overtime payments because they are working about double forty hours a week. However, the workers who complain are fired, and the rest of the workers keep quiet because they extremely need work. If these workers do not like conditions, the company can hire other workers.

It is important to focus on the problem’s details. A new owner takes over a company, and he meets his HR manager, who is also new because of the old HR manager’s quit. The work is about to begin, and the owner wants to hire some more electricians from Community College because they have a good reputation. The union representative tells the owner that he cannot do that because those guys are not in the union.

Some extra work needs to be finished quickly on Saturday, and the owner tries to schedule it, but the union representative notes that they do not work on Saturday. The owner also wants to fire lazy workers who work unsafely, but only the union can hire and fire. Is there a problem with these two situations?

The first situation is why workers need unions, and the other one is why some unions can harm the overall work situation. The purpose of the project is to find a balance to keep union workers satisfied and productive and to make sure the company can operate profitably without hurting the workers.

Problem Statement

How can a company operate for a long time without having a union to organize and control the workforce? While having a union in the company, how it can operate profitably and maintain a happy and productive workforce? What kind of a scenario can be used to make the workforce and management develop efficiently and productively?

Analysis of Alternatives

To operate productively and efficiently, companies need a good workforce, and they need effective management that will be able to manage human resources. The workforce must have respect for the company, and the workers must have respect for the management to keep a good working relationship going.

In their turn, managers should always realize they must have the workers’ concerns, points of view, and interests in their minds and take them into account while making decisions. This project will discuss the pros and cons of four alternatives which can be observed in a company, and this discussion relates to the issues of human resource management and union representation of the workforce.

It is important to note that all the employment places are different. Each province and area is different, and external factors are different for each type of business and that area. There are many different considerations to think about, so it is difficult to come up with an overall set of recommendations and choose the most appropriate ones.

Alternative 1: A union tries to organize, and the company tries to fight and break it before it happens

There are definite rules that must be followed before the union can begin to organize, and each side must focus on these rules. Managers have their own set of rules as well as the workforce. However, there is a very important fact that must be understood before they reach this step of a union coming in. The organization of unions is associated with the initiative of unsatisfied employees.

In some cases, there are also people who are union organizers, and they try to develop the union in a company to make the national union bigger and stronger. The typical reason why people start defending the organization a union in a company is the company’s inability to make employees satisfied.

Thus, there is the ‘push and pull’ philosophy associated with the union coming in. The ‘push’ factor: people are unsatisfied with their job conditions, pushed by co-workers or given no choice because if they want their job position, they have to join the union.

The ‘pull’ factor: people see the benefits that a union can give them. As a result, when a manager sees such clues as groups of workers talking quietly together in groups, he should think about the organization of a union because small problems can become big problems suddenly, and more questions about company’s policies and benefits can appear.

In this situation, the rules for the company are the following ones: there can be no discipline norms to be followed about an employee who is organizing a union. If an employee needs to be disciplined for another reason, the company should be sure it has the legal right to punish the employee for his or her actions if they are not connected with the union organization.

Thus, all the managers’ actions must be looked at very carefully by the HR team to make sure it does not look like as the managers do anything unfair according to the principles of the labor relations board of Canada.

The inappropriate managers’ actions can provide some fuel for the organizers to help them to get the union certified. If the Labour Relations Board thinks that the company is breaking any of the rules, the union can be automatically certified without a vote, or the company can be sued for breaking labor laws.

This fact means that once a union starts to organize, the management must be very careful about how they operate the business because anything could make the situation worse.

Referring to employees’ rights and duties, they are not allowed to:

  • Organize during work hours, for instance, talking to groups of workers while being at work.
  • Trying to make an employer negotiate with workers before the union is certified, like using the perspective of the union as a threat.
  • Intimidate any employees about joining the union.

If there is a union beginning to organize in a company, it must almost stand back and let the process happen and make sure that the management staff knows the consequences of their actions well, and the HR team handles the process professionally.

If the managers do not handle the process appropriately, it can almost guarantee the organization of a union, which will be hard to negotiate with and make a collective bargaining agreement. By pushing the union down, the company will have a group of very angry workers who will not stop their activities.

Alternative 2: A union tries to organize, and the company supports the initiative

It usually takes unsatisfied employees to form a union or those employees who see the perspectives for improving their conditions. These employees think they can deserve more than they have now, and they are sure that the union will help them to get it. By following the rules mentioned above, the company’s management should let the process happen.

If the managers’ team is professional and allows the situation to happen, there will be no complaints or problems from the Labour Board, and the organizers will not have more chances to make the company perform ineffectively.

There might be a chance that the employees can vote ‘No’ to a union, but if they vote ‘yes’ to the union being certified, and it is time to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement, both sides will not have many problems and will be negotiating with the goal of agreeing.

Moreover, if a union becomes certified, people still have to come back to work, and they even work together in harmony. Furthermore, if the process was rather difficult, and the managers tried to manage the staff efficiently, the beginning part of organizing the union should be as peaceful as possible. To receive positive results: 1.

There should be a chance that the workforce does not vote for a union and things can be fixed over the long term with a good relationship because now the company is aware that there are problems, and it does not want them to happen again. 2. If the union is organized, the negotiations can become smoother, and the HR department will have more opportunities to manage the staff easier.

Alternative 3: A union never has a chance to come in because the employees are generally satisfied with the working situation. It is important to remember that unions are created by employees

There are two very different theories that unions are good for a company and that unions are bad for a company. The key is in positions of employees and managers. The problem is in the fact that many policies cannot change the company’s corporate strategy. There are many rules to deal with employees, and more stress is put on lower level managers because they have less power to deal with workers.

Thus, the Collective Bargaining Agreement provides the rules on financial issues and hours worked or conditions, and it also provides the information on how much control the company gives to the union about hiring and discipline issues. Moreover, there is always the stated possibility of the employees’ strike, if problematic things cannot be negotiated.

Most people in the HR industry agree that a union substitution method is the best way to operate, and modern employees and managers agree because the global working economy is very different now. It is easier for companies to buy globally than to build locally.

To reach a substitution situation, the company must watch very closely what the workers talk about and their changing attitudes. Also, the company must pay attention to what their competitors are doing, both unionized and non-unionized companies, about collective bargaining agreements.

The company should hire a specialist as part of the HR team to manage this situation. The managers need very strict guidelines on how to handle workers’ complaints, reward when appropriate, and use strong promotion policies. There are situations when it can be hard to maintain this approach because there are so many factors that control employee satisfaction.

If the employees are not satisfied with their conditions, they are starting to organize. If these employees agree to the company, they may not play leadership roles during a long period. Thus, some lawyers argue that it is illegal to focus on union avoidance because it is the right of the workers to negotiate as a group.

The goal of this alternative is to have strong leadership that keeps the concerns of the workers in mind at all times and set strong rules on how to handle all the aspects of employee relations.

From this point, unions can be good for a company because they guarantee the quality of work. The unions have to be certified and maintain definite standards. Thus, there is less absenteeism due to the employee job satisfaction, and the focus on longer careers with that company can be observed.

On the other side, it is argued that it is difficult to run a company because of the restrictive policies that a union brings, because of strikes or the threat of strikes, and because of increasing labor costs. That is why, while dealing with the possibility of a union, the company should choose between three alternatives to handle things without a union being organized.


A union is an organization with the legal authority to represent workers, negotiate the terms and conditions of employment with the employer, and administer the collective agreement. Thus, the union is an important type of management framework, and workers join unions because of such reasons as job dissatisfaction, their attitudes towards unions, and because of the perceived union instrumentality.

Workers and their trade unions have well-defined structures that they respect. The unions are also well organized about forming the employees’ approach to work. Any further work with the workers and their trade unions should not ignore the structures of authority and command respect in the union and company. Employees are organized in unions to make collective decisions according to the principle of democracy in opinions and views.

Unions are effective to avoid the exploitation at the workplace and to stimulate the employees’ productivity. Furthermore, the local unions respond to the needs of the employees who differ about their cultures and ethnicities. Thus, the employees’ rights are protected, and their interests are followed.

The recommendations for the union should be based on adopting the second alternative discussed in the paper and on addressing the local conditions and factors. In this case, the support for organizing the union should be associated with implementing different policies.

It is important to note that the organized union can address and adapt to important local conditions and employees and the company’s expectations. Furthermore, the organization of the union should be associated with changes in management.


To implement the proposed actions, the company could develop specific guidelines to improve interactions and the exchange of information between the union and management department. The management department should be able to provide regular reports to the union and on the implementation of the company’s strategy and the complementarity of the issues which are relative to the company’s production efficiency and security.

The company could also oversee and promote the participation and ensure the exchange of information and coordination of activities between the union’s members and the management department of the company.

The company could provide guidance and training programs to build and strengthen the capacities of institutions that are responsible for ensuring employee productivity, and also improve employee’s royalty and their motivation.

The company could provide a forum for discussions on issues relevant to the workforce with the union by scheduled, and solve the problem before it trends to uncorrectable and too deep, negotiate and discuss the problem to get a win-win situation. These strategies are beneficial for the company’s reputation, productivity, and revenue, and they are also good for improving the employee’s working environment and its performance.

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1. IvyPanda. "Human Relations Management and Unions in Modern Society." September 23, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/human-relations-management-and-unions-in-modern-society/.


IvyPanda. "Human Relations Management and Unions in Modern Society." September 23, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/human-relations-management-and-unions-in-modern-society/.


IvyPanda. 2019. "Human Relations Management and Unions in Modern Society." September 23, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/human-relations-management-and-unions-in-modern-society/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'Human Relations Management and Unions in Modern Society'. 23 September.

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