Union Organizing Drive

For EACH of the four scenarios here, you are the HR manager and you need to — 1.Outline your various alternatives in responding to the union organizing drive.

2.Develop and support a specific recommended course of action to present to upper management.

Acme Auto Parts

Acme Auto Parts is a small nonunion manufacturer of auto parts located in a small town in the South. The work is repetitive and routine. There are no particular skills or educational requirements for the production employees. Acme sells nearly all its parts to the Big Three automakers (Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler) according to the specifications they provide. The highly unionized Big Three have largely outsourced the manufacturing of parts. Many of their traditional parts suppliers have closed their unionized operations in Michigan and opened nonunion plants in the South and in Mexico. The Big Three, however, continue to face competitive cost pressures from the Japanese car companies and therefore are continually trying to wring cost concessions from their suppliers.

The parts workers at various companies that are still represented by the United Auto Workers (UAW) face demands for concessions during every contract negotiation. The UAW is therefore trying to organize the nonunion parts factories. You have seen UAW organizers in town trying to contact Acme workers for the past few weeks. This morning you overheard two workers talking about the UAW.


The Zinnia is a 300-room hotel in the central business district of a major Midwestern metropolitan area. This is a full-service hotel—a hotel providing a wide variety of services including food and beverage facilities and meeting rooms—that caters to individual business travelers, convention attendees, and local businesspeople who need meeting space. The Zinnia emphasizes outstanding service and amenities and is owned by a prominent local real estate magnate, Ms. Lucy Balder-cash, who closely monitors the management and financial performance of her diversified properties.

Many of this city’s major hotels are unionized, and the Zinnia’s wage rates are equal to the local union wage scale. You feel that while the Zinnia’s employee benefit package is modest compared to what the union has been able to extract from your unionized competitors, it is competitive with other low-skilled occupations in the area—and is particularly generous for the undocumented immigrants that you have quietly hired to fill the dishwashing and room cleaning positions. You also feel that your unionized competitors are saddled with myriad work rules that restrict flexibility.

The local union organizes aggressively and isn’t afraid to have public marches and demonstrations in support of its goal of social justice. But you thought your workers were content, and you were astonished to learn this morning that Zinnia workers have been quietly signing authorization cards. You received notice from the NLRB that a petition was filed by the local hotel union requesting an election covering back-of-the-house workers (kitchen, laundry, and room cleaning employees—not front-of-the-house employees like bellhops, bartenders, and waitresses) and that this petition was supported by signed authorization cards from 40 percent of the workers.


School District 273 is a medium-sized public school district in a Northeastern state with a comprehensive bargaining law that includes teachers. The bargaining law allows strikes (except for police, firefighters, and prison guards) and also allows unions to be recognized through a card check recognition procedure if the employer does not object. Otherwise a representation election will be conducted when a petition is supported by 30 percent signed authorization cards. No employees in District 273 are represented by a union, though teachers in many neighboring districts are.

District 273 receives 75 percent of its funding from the state based on a statewide per-student funding formula; the remainder comes from local property taxes and fees. To balance the state budget, school funding was reduced by 10 percent. School budgets are also being squeezed by rising health care costs. And teachers are frustrated by the state’s emphasis on standardized test scores; they feel they are losing control over educational standards and curriculum. A grassroots unionization effort started among some teachers at the district’s high school near the beginning of the school year. It is now the middle of the school year, and the leaders of this grassroots effort—which they are now calling the District 273 Teacher’s Association—claim to have signed authorization cards from 70 percent of the teachers, including large numbers at all the district’s schools. They have asked the school board to voluntarily recognize their union and schedule bargaining sessions to hear their concerns and negotiate a contract that preserves teachers’ input into the educational process.


Woodville HealthCare is a for-profit health care provider formed through the merger of several networks of physicians. It operates 50 managed care clinics and employs 400 doctors in the West. The merger has resulted in a major restructuring of operations. Several clinics have been closed, and a number of new operating guidelines have been implemented. Doctors are now required to see more patients; specialty medical procedures and nongeneric prescriptions must be approved by the medical authorization department; and expensive procedures can negatively affect a doctor’s salary.

Some doctors contacted a national doctors’ union that is affiliated with one of the largest U.S. unions, and an organizing drive was launched. After a petition was filed with the NLRB, Woodville filed objections and argued that the doctors were supervisors and therefore excluded from the NLRA. The NLRB eventually ruled that 100 of the doctors had supervisory responsibilities, but that 300 were nonmanagerial doctors. Woodville then spent $200,000 (plus staff time) on an antiunion campaign leading up to last week’s election for the 300 nonmanagerial doctors. The election results were 142 voting in favor of the union, 128 against.

This is a slim seven-vote margin, and you have until tomorrow to decide whether to appeal the results of the election by filing objections with the NLRB. Several days before the election, the union’s website reported salary figures for Woodville’s top executives that were grossly inflated. You have also investigated several allegations of inappropriate union campaigning on the day of the election but have uncovered only weak evidence. Your attorney predicts that there is a 20 percent chance an appeal would succeed.(BUDD 225-226)

BUDD. Labor Relations: Striking a Balance, 4th Edition. McGraw-Hill Learning Solutions, 41206. VitalBook file.

The citation provided is a guideline. Please check each citation for accuracy before use.

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