Friday, August 22, 2008

So this is freedom?

Folks who read this blog will know that I generally try to stay middle-of-the-road on political issues, but occasionally something comes up that is so genuinely repugnant that I just have to take it to task.

Buckle in kids, this is going to be a long and bumpy ride!

So much for the American concept of freedom. If the Unions have their way, a critical part of the protection from forced unionization will be taken from employees. A bill deceptively titled The Employee Free Choice Act would change the playing field for Unions and make it much easier for them to coerce folks into joining union against their will.

The current law governing how unions are established in a company have been around for years and are clearly arranged to protect an employee's right to freely choose to elect a union to represent them, or not. The law today provides a very solid balance to allow employees to freely seek to elect or reject a union without fear of reprisals from either the employer or the Union. See this very brief summary of the Employee's Rights under the National Labor Relations Act.

Like most laws, the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) is a pretty long and complicated tome that spells out things in detail. The key elements of the law related to if and how a union gets elected to represent employees are;
  1. Employee / Union rights to organize and;
  2. The election process which includes a secret ballot.
Simply put, Unions have the right to solicit, market, advertise and otherwise communicate to employees why they need a union to represent them. Likewise, employees cannot be prohibited from, or punished for pursuing union representation. The law very clearly protects these rights and the unions know it. Employers who violate these employee rights are penalized and if such violations in any way impeded a union's attempt to get in, the union election process gets the equivalent of a "do-over". Conversely, employers are prohibited from actions that could be construed as being coercive or retaliatory towards employees who support the union.

Typically a union will attempt to organize workers by holding off-site / off-hours meetings, passing out pamphlets or using other marketing methods. Make no mistake on this point - unions are a business and they invest BIG money into marketing and "selling" their value. They hire full-time organizers whose sole job is to get more dues-paying members into the union. This goal of the unions is to get at least 30% of the targeted employees (referred to as the Bargaining Unit) to sign cards saying that they are interested in possibly making the union their representative. They are NOT signing cards to say, "Yes, I want this union to have full authority to negotiate every term and condition of my employment", but if this bill passes, that is EXACTLY what the cards will mean.

In a world where the Employee Free Choice Act gets enacted, there is basically nothing to prevent union thugs, Organizers.... from accosting you and pressuring you to sign away your right to negotiate terms of your employment to them. You'll also be signing on to allow them to take dues from you which may be used to drive union political agendas, to fund illegal activities or even to personally enrich union leaders!

So why is this a bad thing? After all, isn't the union just moving to the logical conclusion a bit faster? Besides, the unions claim, thousands of employees are discriminated against because they support unions. This is simply a clear case of misdirection. Where employees have been mistreated by ill-informed employers for their union supporting actions, the very cases the unions cite as the reason we need the Employee Free Choice Act, are themselves testimony as to how the current law works. The cases they cite are cases in which employers were sanctioned for coercive or retaliatory acts. The unions want this because it would allow them to unionize a work-force virtually overnight for far less cost and effort than allowing the current process in which both sides can educate the audience and allow for a peaceful, thoughtful and FEDERALLY SUPERVISED election process.

The fact is that if this bill passes, the employees will lose the right to vote in secret and be subjected to the "parking lot politics" of having peers and union organizers directly pressure them to sign a card on the spot or be subject to ridicule or harassment. How on earth is this better? IT'S NOT!!! Simply put, if this bill passes, the very employees it proposes to protect will lose a basic protection and American right of electing representation by secret ballot.


Contact your elected representatives and let them know that the so called "Employee Free Choice Act" is anything but, and that you demand your right to avoid coercion or pressure from anyone through the time tested American standard of the secret ballot.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Gen -"W" as in What the hell?

You've heard all the generational labels being kicked around the past few years - Boomers (the folks old enough to remember when ...), Gen-X (the folks young and hip enough to bring us the internet), and Gen-Y.

Each generation has it's gifts, talents and traits that make them valuable.... up to a point. It seems that many in Gen-Y (and even the odd-Gen-X'er) have taken to the belief that the rules of their parents simply do not apply to them. I have chosen to stop referring to them as Gen-Y; I now call them Gen-W, where the "W" stands for "what the hell are you thinking?". I am seeing alarming numbers of these folks seeking employment and demonstrating behaviors I have NEVER seen in 18 years in the HR trenches. Worse yet, many of my Sales and Technology Manager friends tell me that they see the same traits:
  • Resumes that look like one step better than a third-grade student could do with a red crayon with more typos than you can get out of a band of drunken monkies using broken keyboards.
  • Cover letters (when present) that mis-represent their skills, over-reach for roles they are clearly not qualified for and demanding salaries and perks which they can't reasonably believe they merit.
  • A general failure to take even cursory steps to learn about the company and role they are applying for - here's a hint - if you don't at least know what we make or sell, you are not going to get the job; period!
  • Being completely unprepared for interviews; some of these folks have not even read their own resume to explain their experience!
The list goes on and on....

If you are among this select group - THIS is your wake up call!
If you don't shape up and get your act together, you will not get the job.

** This is aimed just for those of you who got offended by this post -

Please, before you contact a company seeking employment, take a step back and review the goofs listed above.
Take the time to prepare yourself and take a good, hard look in the mirror and be honest about whether or not you just might be as mortal as the rest of us.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Effective management is a "contact sport"!

No, I don't mean "contact" in the sense of how you'd pound on someone in Rugby or American Football... I'm referring to "contact" as in having a deep, personal understanding of, and connection with things like:
  • Your industry; know what it takes for your company to succeed and stay on top of industry events.

  • Your business. Learn all you can about your business; each function and department.

  • Your leaders; what are their goals and aspirations for the company and what you can do to help them achieve success for the company.

  • Your people – personally and professionally to help them grow and contribute to company success.

  • Your strengths – know them and employ them to achieve the better results.

  • Your weaknesses – understand your shortcomings and take an active hand in developing them; maybe you cannot overcome them, but you can improve them.

  • Your competitors: learn who their key players are and who is driving their success in sales, product management, design, etc.
Stop thinking about your role in the business as the silo of just doing your part, and start really analyzing how you (and your team) interact and contribute to the larger picture of your entire business and industry - get in contact with all of it.