Advice to LPNs
It is very important for the Licensed Practical Nurses to unionize following the trends at Happy Trails. Happy Trails is more concerned about its revenue than the benefits of the nurses and has therefore decided to do away with some of the benefits. The trend may continue should Happy Trails find the need to do so. Joining the union will enable the LPNs benefit from collective bargains of their salaries plus other benefits such as social security, pension plans, paid vacation, training opportunities among other benefits (Woytinskey, 1953).
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Unions can help the LPNs negotiate sick pay as well as healthcare coverage. Unionization will also ensure job security to the LPNs at Happy Trails meaning that they can no longer be fired at will by the employer and they also stand independent as well as fair grievance appeal process (Freeman, & Medoff, 1984). However, joining the union may also come with disadvantages. The LPNs will have to pay union dues and also have to join strikes whenever the union leaders call for it (Freeman, & Medoff, 1984). Strikes may strain the relationships between the LPNs and their managers at Happy Trails since they affect the operations in the institution and hence lower profits.
Issues to be addressed by the union
In organizing for their representation by the union, the LPNs have to consider and also discuss the compensation which is lower as compared to what most independent living homes pay their LPNs as well as the fewer benefits they receive at Happy Trails.
Steps that the LPNS have to follow to unionize
For the LPNS at Happy Trails to unionize, they have to follow some steps. They have to attend meetings so as to learn about unionizing. They then have to devise organizing strategies and be able to support each LPN within the Happy Trails so that they can all vote for the union to represent them in collective bargaining. The LPNs should then file a petition to the National Labor Relations Board at the regional office to set up elections (NLRB 2011). For them to file a petition with the NLRB, they have to obtain more than 30% signatures from the LPNs employed at Happy Trails to prove that they are interested in being represented by the union in collective bargaining (NLRB, 2011).
Their representative and the management of Happy Trails should then make a mutual agreement and establish an election process with the NLRB. They then have to participate in a government-sponsored election 50 days from the day they filed the petition. Should the majority of LPNs at the Happy Trails vote in support of representation by the union, the NLRB issues the union with a formal certification showing that they are the duly designated union to represent the LPNs in collective bargaining (Fossum, 1982). The certification will give the union the mandate to represent the LPNs at Happy Trails in negotiating employment contract with the management on their behalf. According to NLRB (2011) the management of Happy Trails will be compelled by the law to negotiate in faith with the LPNs representative.
Unfair labor practices to be avoided by the LPNs
After forming or joining a union, the LPNs need to avoid unfair labor practices as defined by the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations in section 7116(b) (Kohier, 2011). They should not coerce other fellow employees within Happy Trails to form or join a labor union. Again, they should not discriminate against other employees within Happy Trails by taking advantage of the terms of their membership in the union based on race, sex, national origin, age, disability, marital status political affiliation as well as preference to civil service status. Just like the law require of their managers, they should also not refuse to negotiate in good faith.
This implies that they are not allowed to participate in or call for picketing activities during labor-management disputes since such activities are bound to interfere with the operations of Happy Trail. Informational picketing is only allowed during non-working hours or days. The union has to avoid as much as possible strikes, boycotts or go-slow by employees they represent by negotiating with both the members and the management (NLRB, 2011).
Advice to Happy Trails Management
The management should allow the LPNs to join or form a union. According to the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, they have the right to join as well as to organize a union (Kohier, 2011). In that case, maintaining a positive relationship by respecting the LPNs’ rights should involve faithful bargains between Happy Trails’ management and the LPNs representative over the terms and conditions of their employment as stipulated by the federal law. Such actions would enable the management at Happy Trails avoid probable strikes, go-slow or boycotts by the LPNs.
Option available for Happy Trails
Happy Trails need not to oppose the unionization of the LPNs since it is a right provided for by the federal law. Instead they should make the LPNs understand why the organization felt it wise to hire them. The management has to understand that the kind of services provided by the workforce is a key determinant of the core of the business and therefore have to be treated fairly with utmost respect. They should explain to the LPNs that the reason for hiring them was to effectively compete against their counterparts in the city who are also offering the same services by implementing strategies that would make it become more attractive. Therefore the organization plans to build on their workforce’s skills to achieve greater competency in its long-term care programs for patients.
Therefore to ensure that the unionization of the LPNs does not interfere with their operations, they should develop a unionization policy in collaboration with the LPNs to set the guidelines for their unionization activities. In addition, they should offer standard compensation, benefits as well as working conditions which are relative to their location. The management should also put in place open formal and non-formal communication channels. This will help solve labor-management disputes that could arise within the organization. The departmental managers and supervisors should be provided with regular training on how to effectively deal with the nurses and other support staff and how to handle disputes that arise during work. Finally, Happy Trails need to establish a committee that will handle workers grievances.
Defenses to the union’s organizing activities
Happy Trails has a legal right to oppose unionization of the LPNs should there be no officially established union and this should be done in a non-coercive manner (Gregor, 2003). The reasons for their opposition should be nature of their services considering that the facility is located far away from other independent living homes and hospitals. Unionization could lead to strikes or boycotts which could have devastating impacts on its patients. They can also argue that they are always ready and willing to negotiate labor-management disputes as they have done before and therefore unionization is unnecessary.
Steps to follow should the organization support non-unionization
In the event that the LPNs vote against representation, the organization will be issued with a certification of the results showing that the union is not supported by majority of the LPNs. The company may also decide to oppose unionization as provided for by the law. In that case, the management has to inform all its employees that the organization opposes unionization. It should provide the basis for its opposition to employees and the consequences of unionization to both the organization and the employees involved. The organization has to develop a policy statement outlining its position on unions. It has to explain why it believes unionization is unnecessary in the organization. This policy should be reviewed to ensure that it is in line with the federal labor laws. New employees joining the organization should be made aware that such law exists. The management has to make them understand the contents of the policy (Gregor, 2003).
Unfair labor practices to be avoided by the management
Happy Trails’ management has to avoid refusal to negotiate in good faith the terms and conditions of employment with the employees or their representative. They should also not restrain or coerce any of their employees in exercising his or her right. Again, they should not intimidate or promise special favors or benefits to an employee in order for him or her to oppose the union or renounce his or her involvement in the union. It would also be wrong for the management to discriminate against LPNs who have joined a union due to the terms and conditions of their membership based on their cultural diversity, disability, age or marital status (NLRB, 2011).
In the process of unionization, Happy Trails has to involve in activities that are in line with the provisions of NLRA aimed at motivating the workers to remain committed to the organization. Therefore promoting LPNs by appraising them into leadership as well as management roles and offering them bonuses would work to the advantage of both parties as long as it is done in good faith. The LPNs will feel valued by the organization and commit themselves to the organization and be willing to discuss issues with the management.
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Fossum, J. A. (1982). Labor relations — development, structure, process. New York: McGraw-Hill Publishers.
Freeman, R. B. & Medoff, J. L. (1984). What do unions do? New York: Basic Books.
Gregor, G. (2003). Employer opposition to union recognition. In Gregor Gall. Union organizing: campaigning for trade union recognition. London: Routledge.
Kohier, T. C. (2011). National Labor Relations Act of 1935. Web.
National Labor Relations Board. (2011). National Labor Relations Board. Web.
Woytinskey, W.S. (1953). Employment and wages in the United States. New York: The Twentieth Century Fund.