An NLRB ruling said that racist activity on the picket line is protected activity.

An NLRB ruling said that racist activity on the picket line is protected activity.

The Charleston shootings of June 2015 have certainly raised the profile of “racist” activities. But not all racist activities are deplorable if one is to interpret a decision by an NLRB Administrative Law Judge correctly.

The Case

In a union dispute in Findlay, Ohio striking workers had formed a picket line in front of the business for which they worked. The management had made the decision to replace the striking workers during the period of the strike. As in many such situations the striking workers are not kind to the replacement workers. They verbally abused the workers calling them “scabs” and telling them to go home. Many of the replacements were also African-Americans and one picketer went beyond bounds by yelling “’Hey, did you bring enough KFC for everyone,’ and ‘Hey, anybody smell that? I smell fried chicken and watermelon’“ according to attorney Thomas Pence.

Employee terminated

Naturally, according to Pence, when the company heard of this behavior the striking employee was terminated for violating their harassment policy. The union, to its discredit in my opinion, grieved the termination and the case went to an arbitrator. The arbitrator concluded that the termination was justified. However, the union also filed an unfair labor practice and in that case the ALJ overturned the arbitrator’s decision saying that because the behavior had occurred on the picket line it was “protected activity and did not constitute sufficient cause for discharge.” The employee was reinstated with back pay.

Attorney Pence concluded:

“… that when an employee engages in misconduct during union activity (during union organizing in the workplace, in grievance meetings, in negotiations, on the picket line), the employer should carefully review and consider whether it can proceed with its normal, reasonable level of discipline, or whether, in that particular case, the fact that the conduct occurred during union activity requires the employer to either forego discipline or impose a lesser form of discipline than it otherwise might.

This case may not be over yet, as the company has indicated they are going to appeal the decision and who knows in light of recent events the next judge might have a different opinion.


Leadership wisdom

Leadership wisdom

At the #SHRM15 national conference speaker, writer, entrepreneur Marcus Buckingham talked about his research and writing on leadership. He was releasing a new book Standout 2.0 in which he talks about assessing your strengths as a leader in order to be better in your job and in your life. During his presentation he was talking about his son and his playing FIFA soccer on his Xbox. I had a minor “wow” moment there.

Game boards to lead?

Buckingham made many great statements, that included:

  • The best team leaders ask “What are your priorities this week + how can I help?” Every week. 52 times a year.
  • Team leaders don’t give feedback, they coach.
  • Team leaders need to check-in with their team members every week on near-term future work.
  • As a team leader, I wonder what are the strengths of my people, what are they doing this week + how are they feeling?
  • You can’t build a great organization from the center. Build lots of teams like your best teams. Team leader by team leader
  • 61% of my performance rating of you is a reflection of me and not you.
  • If you put garbage data in, you get garbage data out. Team leaders need real-time, reliable smart data.

Fifa dashboardAs he went through his points he gave an example of his son’s game dashboard. It allows his son to select a team based on multiple characteristics such as; their strengths, their unique qualities, and how they mesh with the other team members. He said this is the sort of dashboard that leaders need to have.

Marcus buckinghamI asked him later at his book signing party if he thought this was the wave of the future and he responded “I do” and it needs to be sooner rather than later. It is data driven and that takes out the subjective errors out of the process. But it turns out we want some subjectivity in the process. With the gamification process we can build a tool that works for leaders and employees as opposed to the just serving the needs of the organization.

Just think about having a tool where you can mix, match and select “players” based on how well they mesh and then have a tool to provide them the feedback and support they need to be successful.

Pretty powerful.

{ 1 comment }

Report from #SHRM15: The USDOL Causes a Buzz

by Michael Haberman on July 2, 2015 · 0 comments

SHRM15 logoThe morning of the last day of the #SHRM15 conference started with Dr. Oz. I was prepared not to be all that interested in what he had to say, but he was actually pretty interesting. Here are some of his pearls of wisdom from my Tweets:

  • HR is the cutting edge of healthcare because we communicate wellness to our employees. Not a typical view of HR.
  • Dr. Oz asks us to message three people who like you and ask why they like you. With Dr. Oz the answer he got was his passion.
  • The biggest reason people don’t change is the fear of failing in change. Losing love.
  • Emotional health hurts everyday. Few people ask for help. People change based on feelings. But it has to be easy.
  • Realizing why you matter to someone is powerful and a key to change.
  • 5 biggest life adjustments blood pressure, 30 min exercise, healthy diet, stress control and sleep, curtail addictions. Make is easy
  • We need 7 hours of sleep per night at least. Men need 7.5.
  • you have to “quiet your plaque”. People are unaware of their problems. Diabetes destroys arteries.
  • Lungs of people that have smoked are very, very ugly. Why would you let anyone you love smoke?
  • Your waist has to be less than half your height in inches. That is more important than your weight.
  • if we conquer the obesity problem in the US any health system will work.
  • You cannot overcome the biology of blubber. That is why diets don’t work. Change the nature of it.
  • Eat spices, eat nuts, (He is enjoying his nuts discussion), have to have some fats in your diet. Diet sodas are really bad.
  • 65 year old have the same endurance as a 16 yr old. Just not the speed.
  • Biting a cork will help reduce anger and if you have a cork in your mouth no one will bother you.
  • per good news. “We are supposed to be flawed.”
  • Automate as much as you can. Working on autopilot makes your life easier and healthier. Develop a routine.

For those trying to lose weight Dr. Oz has several suggested programs. Check out his site and blog for great health information.

USDOL announces new Exempt salary level

The US Department of Labor released the long awaited revisions in the minimum salary level an employee must have to be considered exempt. Currently that level is $455 per week, or $23,660. Any exempt employee must be paid that amount of money on a salary basis in order to be considered an exempt employee, regardless of whether or not they meet the duties test. The announcement indicates that the USDOL is raising that minimum salary to $970 per week, or $50,440 per year. This is more than twice the current level! The estimate is that this will result in 5 million white collar workers having to be reclassified as non-exempt employees. This will mean that time will have to be tracked and overtime paid anytime the employee works more than 40 hours in a week.

I talked to Michael Aitken, VP of Governmental Affairs for SHRM and also Tammy McCutchen, an attorney who was a former member of the USDOL, about these proposed changes. Both of them mentioned that there was a surprise in the announcement in that there was no mention of a change in the duties test that all exempt employees have to meet. Aitken thinks that the USDOL is leaving that for a separate announcement, which McCutchen thinks will come mid-2016 in order to beat the mid-term election and a possible change in administration.

The salary level is just proposed at the moment. It is possible that the amount may change, but it is unlikely. So employers need to be evaluating the status of all their exempt employees who make less than $51,000 in salary. You need to determine what would be the best option financially; increasing the employee’s salary level to $970 per week or paying them overtime for all hours worked more than 40 hours in a week. It is unlikely the regulation change will go into effect this year, more likely early or mid-2016. Thus, there is time to prepare. So you had better get to work.


Report from #SHRM15 Part 2

by Michael Haberman on July 1, 2015 · 0 comments

Steve Browne's self-proclamation.

Steve Browne’s self-proclamation.

The day started with a HUGE dose of Steve Browne. If you are not familiar with Steve he is an HR executive in Ohio. He is an advocate of culture, not just good culture, but great culture. Some of my tweets from that session include:

  • HR should not do things they should “do” people!
  • Culture that rocks does not include button down Oxford shirts that are pale yellow.
  • Culture is the number 1 reason people stay at or leave your company.
  • HR is the only profession that beats itself up. We have to stop that.
  • We do projects, we don’t do people.
  • “meet me emotionally, that way we can communicate.”
  • Meet people where they are for a culture that rocks.

That gives you an idea of Steve. If you ever have an opportunity to see Steve you need to so so.

The keynote was Mika Brzezinski, co-host of the MNBC show Morning Joe. She told us the story of her negotiation process in getting that position. Her message focused on women understanding their value and being better at negotiating for a better wage. In her book Know Your Value she gives tips for women on doing a better job of improving their positions. She now has a new book called   Grow Your Value: Living and Working to Your Full Potential. Although she talked about the differing skills between men and women in negotiation, it is my opinion that these skills are valuable for men too.


Report from #SHRM15

by Michael Haberman June 30, 2015

Tweet The keynote address to kick of the Monday at SHRM15 in Vegas was Marcus Buckingham. What a great presentation. I will be posting more about his work later. I plan on reading his book. Buckingham talks about employee engagement, but in a different manner than the normal discussion. A few tweetable moments I captured […]

Read the full article →

#SHRM15 is about connecting

by Michael Haberman June 29, 2015

Tweet Steven Browne is one of the most outgoing HR people you will meet. He is that way with a purpose. He made a presentation on the Smart Stage at the SHRM Conference in Las Vegas. According to Steve he is “geeked” to be at SHRM15 and he wanted to convey the value of interacting […]

Read the full article →

Future Friday: The Future of HR is in relationships- Four Tips for the #SHRM15 Conference

by Michael Haberman June 26, 2015

Tweet I have written a number of times that the future of HR is to keep the “human” in human resources. As technology advances and jobs consisting of tasks become increasingly automated the one area that will not be automated is that of “relationships.” People connections Steve Browne, the Executive Director of HR for LaRosa, […]

Read the full article →

Making your employees feel proud to be an employee

by Michael Haberman June 25, 2015

Tweet Sitting in my office I heard my wife exclaim from her office “That’s wonderful!” Naturally I was curious and asked her “What was wonderful?” She said she had just received the company newsletter and it contained a story that she said told about something the company did that was “just so cool.” Company cool […]

Read the full article →

SHRM National Conference and Building a Smarter Workforce

by Michael Haberman June 24, 2015

Tweet Starting next Sunday, June 28, I will be attending the SHRM National Conference in Las Vegas. I am going at a member of the official blogger team for SHRM. In that capacity I will be live Tweeting from the keynote presentations and selected concurrent sessions. I will be posting blog discussions once or twice […]

Read the full article →

When stupid HR results in new laws

by Michael Haberman June 23, 2015

Tweet I think there is already too much employment related legislation, so I hate it when stupid HR practices prompt legislators to introduce legislation to counteract the stupid HR practice. But alas… No good reason A group of Democrat Senators have introduced the MOVE Act, short for the Mobility and Opportunity for Vulnerable Employees Act. […]

Read the full article →