Union Membership on the Rise: Poor Management the Cause?

by Michael Haberman on January 31, 2012 · 0 comments

An article appeared in the Associated Press the other day, entitled Number of Union Members Rises. Naturally that piqued my curiosity so I read the article wondering if poor management is finally getting its payback. Unfortunately the article did not, and could not, answer that question but one can only wonder.

First let’s look at the information in the article. The article reported a mix of government and private sector union statistics. The year 2011 was a bad year for government unions. About 60,000 government union workers lost their jobs in 2011. However, in the private sector 110,000 workers joined unions in 2011. This was about the same growth rate as jobs in general in the private sector.

Unions still fell in the share of the overall workfore, 11.8 percent if government workers are included, 6.9 percent in the private sector. The reduction came at the expense of the goverment unions while the private sector remained unchanged from 2010. This reverses a trend from the last several years.

So this begs the question Why? What has caused more employees in the private sector to seek representation by a union. My answer is POOR MANAGEMENT. In the last several years management in many companies has gotten lazy. They saw the economic constriction squeezing employees and freezing them in place as an opportunity to take advantage of those employees. Management teams quit communicating with employees. They forgot how important actively promoting engagement was to the employees. Some used economics to totally eliminate any type of reward, including the cheapest and most effective… PRAISE.

I have often said that in this day and age a company that gets a union deserves a union and I think these figures are hinting at this. I will bet that if the we reviewed the companies that became unionized it was due to abandonment of good management principles and their elimination of the principle of treating people decently.

But that is just my point of view. What do you think? Know of any companies that got unionized that didn’t deserve it? Tell us their story.

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