5 Things Managers Need to Know About Restaurant Union Campaigns

The recent Starbucks workers’ union campaigns are making waves in the hospitality world. Since the restaurant industry, in particular, has one of the lowest unionization rates, it feels like uncharted waters for many industry leaders. Here are five essential things that management can and cannot do during a restaurant union campaign:

Don’t Threaten

It may be common sense to many, but the most important thing for management to avoid is making employees feel like their jobs are in jeopardy by supporting unionization. Management cannot use anything like pay, responsibilities, benefits, even policies to deter union support.

If any policy change during a union campaign could possibly be seen as retaliatory, management should reconsider its implementation.

Do Stick to Facts

Such a hot-button topic like this always spawns a frenzy of rumors. It is completely fine for management to share the facts. They may let workers know that benefits may be restructured. There may also be extra costs associated with union membership and union leaders that workers will report to in addition to company management. If information is fact-based and not being used to pressure workers, management can freely share their knowledge on unions.

Don’t Interrogate

Workers are under no obligation to tell management if they are participating in union organizations, or even what their views on unions are. Make sure management knows they should steer clear of asking or actively investigating an employee’s leanings.

Do Remind Workers of their Rights

Union campaigns can get emotional, and employees may feel obligated or guilted into joining. If management does not attempt to influence an employee’s vote, they can remind employees that they don’t have to join. Even if a worker signs an authorization card or applies for union membership, they have every right to change their minds at the poll.

Don’t Make Promises

While many managers genuinely want to create a positive workplace, making any unscheduled changes to pay or working conditions can land the company in hot water. Any change during a campaign, promised or actual, could be seen as an attempt to sway union votes.

Do Make Sure Your Leaders Are in the Know

Even if your workers are not currently campaigning for a union, restaurants need managers that are prepared for the possibility. Keep current managers up to date on policies surrounding unions and workers’ rights (National Labor Relations Board has a variety of resources).

If you need help finding management with the knowledge and experience to lead employees with compassion and still have the company’s best interest in mind, the restaurant recruiters at Horizon Hospitality can help. Contact us to learn more.



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