Webinar: What you Need to Know About Union Organizing
In an era of the most pro-union President in history, union elections and success rates have skyrocketed. Over the last year, the number of union petitions filed with the NLRB for an election grew by 58%, and the union win rate in those elections so far this year is 76.8%. The Gallup polls show that public approval of labor unions reached 71% in 2022, the highest level since 1965.
Companies must be alert to these issues or be a union’s next success story. If you don’t know the answers to the following questions, you need to attend this webinar:
- What preventive steps I can take now to avoid union problems later?
- What are the warning signs of union activity starting at my facility?
- What immediate steps should I be taking at the outset of union organizing?
- Do I have a tentative game plan to conduct a union-free campaign?
- What are the real costs associated with union representation?
This webinar is conducted by Jim Wimberly and Marty Steckel, old-time “labor lawyers” and veterans of hundreds of union election campaigns with a “win” rate of over 90%. The speakers believe the best way to win a union election is never to have one, and many “secrets” of union-free status will be revealed.
Presented by James W. Wimberly, Jr. & Martin H. Steckel.
Watch This Webinar Below
James W. Wimberly, Jr. (00:00):
Welcome to our webinar on what you need to know about union organizing. I'm Jim Wemberley, and this is my partner Marty Stle, sitting next to me. And Marty and I are both old time labor loggers, which is what they used to call us back in the sixties, seventies, and maybe in start early in the eighties. And now we're labor and employment lawyers. But Marty and I are old school. And between us, we have about a hundred years of experience and about a hundred union elections. We hadn't computed more than that. More than a hundred, okay. I don't think we've computed our one loss record. But it's probably over 90% wins. But we consider any union election of failure. Cause the best way not to lose a union election is to never have one. So we're gonna talk about that aspect of what we call preventive maintenance as well.
James W. Wimberly, Jr. (01:13):
But let's get into the substance since we only have about 45 minutes, although we will stick around for a few minutes for questions if we don't get those done in our allotted time. You know, it's always interesting to know and be aware of are there early signs of union organizing? And as I go through some of these things, they're lessons to be learned from those signs. And I may mention some of those lessons. First one I point out is union materials or talk appearing in plant that suggests something's going on. But there's a lesson to be learned on this. I've been involved in a number of union campaigns where someone in supervision or management knew about Union Talk, but didn't report it to upper management. So the lesson on this point is that we need to have some training or sessions with our supervisors alerting them how important it is to let us know if they hear of any union talk, and to whom to report it to. Cause we can be way behind the eight ball if we don't have that information. Union strategy is to keep management of dark as long as possible. So the more of their organizing or dirty work they can do, before we know about it, they're better off. They think they are. So we need to know that. And our supervisors and staff need to be aware to report to us immediately to a central person off from the HR manager. Any union talk, they hear about, not only in our plant, but in our surrounding community.
Martin H. Steckel (03:08):
Jim, I'd add one thing to what we have on the list, and that is graffiti in the restroom. It's amazing how much that has or trash that's left in the restrooms.
James W. Wimberly, Jr. (03:24):
Where there, there a number of reasons to check on graffiti Marty points out a good one. There may be some graffiti about a union, but also any sort of harassment type graffiti needs to be removed immediately. But that's the subject for another day. Walkouts or other concerted activities, when employees get together and walk out, something big is going on and they are protesting something and are willing to be very aggressive in the process. So that's just right for a union campaign. Secondly, if unions hear about such walkouts, they may send an organizer down to your facility to find out what's going on and see if the union can turn into leadership of that particular dispute. Speak union activity nearby facility. If there's union activity in your area, that means union organizers are in town staying at the local motel, et cetera. And they're always interested in finding other targets in the area.
James W. Wimberly, Jr. (04:41):
And so that's another danger. Also, people in your plant become aware of this and say, Hey, that may be a good thing. Let's join up with people down the street. So there's a theme there. Union activity in your area, major corporate controversial change can bring about change is threatening to people. I don't even like change. So I, I'll give you just a a few examples off the top of my head. Actual situations. I remember one organizing campaign that started cause a company put in a new attendance rule. It shifted from a for cause unexcused absence procedure to a no fault absentee procedure in a day when no fault procedures were not that common. So that generated a lot of resentment and a union campaign. Another situation unrelated to the first, a prominent maintenance employee was or claimed he was fired for going to the hospital.
James W. Wimberly, Jr. (05:54):
He was mad, he was prominent in the plant, had a following, so to speak. He started a union campaign. Another one I remember involved at one time a very prosperous and profitable company whose patent had expired. And they had let employees do just about everything when they had the patent. But when they lost the patent, they had to be competitive. Employees, we were allowed to drink at work. They would sometimes bring coolers and enjoy their lunch. Long lunch breaks, competition arises. It's a different environment. So companies have to plan ahead and manage every controversial change so that employees, they anticipate employee reactions to these changes.
Martin H. Steckel (06:44):
There's one thing, Jim, that's consistent with activity going on, and that is change. The you don't know what that's going to be, but one of the goals is to understand how things are normal. Then if you walk around the plant or they used to call 'em fire watches. You know, the people who went around with a key and show they'd been around the plant. And then if it's a very healthy thing for any of a number of people to do that, just to get a feel for how people are reacting. And this was a guy I worked for initially back in the sixties told me that. And it's been true.
James W. Wimberly, Jr. (07:35):
Well, I remember the day, Marty, now that you talk about that, that the prime job role of every hr, we called 'em personnel managers back then was to walk around the plant, keep up with what was going on, and a personnel manager or human research manager, this office bound as many of us have to be today were downgraded. Cause their primary role was actually being in the plant relating to Chloe's addressing their problems and learning their needs and giving an appropriate company response. Marty I think asked them, added the next early warning sign. You wanna tell us about new groups of friends forming?
Martin H. Steckel (08:24):
Oh, sure. That's that's part of the change element we're talking about. You've got some people that have never been buddy-buddy before. And then all of a sudden they're the new clique in town or at the plant. That's again, a sign of change or something that's different. Actually had a, a, a retail client that worked with, with how to put it. It's a a very large lumber and tool sales operation. But and I used to go around to stores whether there was nothing going on or not, probably even in 75 of their stores. And just to see how things were normally. So that way if you walk through, you can tell that something's different. You can almost feel it just watching the reaction between employees and managers.
James W. Wimberly, Jr. (09:31):
Now, a couple of theories why they're, that happens. One is that coworkers are working together to organize the union. The second thing is that new friends and enemies are starting to surface, whether you're four or against the union. The third is that maybe some of the friendly people become less friendly or less communicating. Anyway, all of those things are the type changes Marty's talking about is early warning sign. So assuming we know something's going on there's potential organizing going on. What is the first thing we do? Well, very early, if not, I, I would say immediately, but you've got to get somebody in to run this meeting to know what they're doing is to call a supervisory meeting. And one of the purposes, believe it or not, of this supervisory meeting is to do two things. One, to find out what the supervisors know, either they've observed, heard, or rumor concerning the possibility of union organizing.
James W. Wimberly, Jr. (10:54):
Secondly, to remind them of the disadvantages of a union for that facility and why the company doesn't want a union. Believe it or not some supervisors think that a, a company may not be hostile to unionization. They may accept it, or the supervisors may be pro-union themselves. They may think if hey employees get something better from having a union, I'm gonna benefit. Cause I'm gonna get something on top of what I currently have. Also, so you're, you're, as a matter of fact, some companies go so far, is after explaining the company's position on unions as those supervisors, are we all the same mind and are willing to work on keeping this union out, oppose the union and provide information to our employees as we plan it out to remain union free? And anybody that doesn't feel they can support the company's mission in this regard, should let us know right now.
James W. Wimberly, Jr. (12:07):
So the last thing I mention, you may not know what we're talking about. Tips. Tips. Tims is a word. What was the old word? We you spit? Was it spit? We used before tips. It's the same four letters. <Laugh>. So we used one of those terms, either spit or tips to remind supervisors of what the rules are on free speech or what not to say, or what will be considered an unfair labor practice. The T of course, stands for threatening. We can't threaten employees with adverse action. The company will take because of union organizing or union coming in. It gets tricky cause we can inform employees of the adverse consequences of, of unionization beyond our control. The I stands for interrogator questions. The labor board rules are that an employee's views on unions or how they're gonna vote is private information to them. And any question a manager or supervisor makes of an employee's views in that regard is considered inherently coercive, unlawful and unfair labor practice. The promise part, the pee is employers are not supposed to promise employee's benefits to keep the union out. This is frustrating. Cause there are ways employers can say things that have to be very carefully drafted by experienced labor lawyers. Or the labor board will say, unlawful, you have promised or bribe the employees to avoid a union. On the other hand, it's frustrating for companies cause unions can promise the world. There's very little, the unions can't promise <laugh> to get in, even though they can't produce the what
Martin H. Steckel (14:04):
I think, Jim, one of the things that is the most difficult thing to do with initial steps is making a determination that you should do nothing. That's very hard to do because what happens sometimes is if you make too big a thing of something, it it can do two things. It can prompt people to think that it's they've got a company on the run or that the
James W. Wimberly, Jr. (14:40):
Publicized or advertised for the union. Yeah. Hey guys, the unions here. We don't want it. Oh, I didn't know what you needed. Where are they? I wanna go see, I think you get my point there.
Martin H. Steckel (14:53):
That, and if you repeat it, if you repeat it like that, that anything that good that does come up, they'll take credit for. And consequently to not cry wolf. That, that doesn't mean you don't educate people or find out who's event I guess this is the next PowerPoint and I'll, I'll wait for
James W. Wimberly, Jr. (15:21):
The, yeah, some of this is down on this PowerPoint. The last letter, the S stands for surveillance or spy. The board N LRB calls it surveillance. It's simpler for supervisors to remember. We aren't supposed to spy meeting activities, for example, we can't send an agent, meaning direct to an employee to go to a union meeting and come tell us what was said or happened or who was there. Now an employee can do that on their own without company being asked. But that's very technical.
Martin H. Steckel (15:57):
And how you word it is particularly important. You can't ask somebody well, why don't you go out to this meeting? But you can say, it sure would be nice to know what's going on in the meetings. Is it a difference and a distinction that the government recognizes, even though as a practical matter, it doesn't make much difference.
James W. Wimberly, Jr. (16:23):
Now Marty suggested the next initial step. Marty, you are explaining that which employees and managers have prior experience with you.
Martin H. Steckel (16:31):
Oh yeah. It's a, is a practical proposition. Most, a large percentage of people who have worked with unions don't like their experience. An example most recently in the public sector is Wisconsin, which went to right to work state. And among teachers, 85% of the people dropped out. Cause they weren't mandated by statute. Most of the southeast doesn't have the the compulsory membership obligation that comes up. But if you get people and, and this can come from anybody you can have them from wives family members you can have 'em from neighbors, somebody who knows what's going on that can bring some information. And one example that I had was real surprised was one involving the teamsters in a food processing operation. And it turns out we found out that one of the employees, there's father was a big deal with the Teamsters in Detroit. And he called his son. He, the man was retired, called his son, said, don't you ever get involved with this. Well, he went and was willing to go out and tell people what his dad had said. Got his dad in a little bit of difficulty. But it was very truthful and very effective.
James W. Wimberly, Jr. (18:24):
Did any event people that have had experience with unions have more knowledge and credibility to communicate the company's position if they're willing to do so? Now, if they're management of supervisors, we can control what they do. We can require them to campaign for the company. And if they don't, we can terminate their law.
Martin H. Steckel (18:48):
Oh, no, that's a, that's not necessarily a healthy way to go
James W. Wimberly, Jr. (18:52):
About it. No, I've never had to do that.
Martin H. Steckel (18:56):
If they, if they're not, if they're not for the company then you don't necessarily want 'em doing anything anyway.
James W. Wimberly, Jr. (19:06):
Yeah. Alright. Develop position statement on unions. I'm not in the interest of time. I, I just wanna say the message the company puts out is extremely important, what is said and how it's said. And the company needs an overall position. And Marty's been particularly good and probably we'll talk about later. For years, I tended to be what some would consider, probably Marty would consider over harsh in my comments on unions. And Marty's developed a kinder and gentler way of saying things that bring about more credibility in what's said. And we'll talk about that in a few minutes. But, you know, the next thing, we've already alluded to the last two items on this PowerPoint. Let supervisors know what we expect them to do. At the outset. We probably don't want initiating discussions about unions. At most, if the subject comes up in their presence, we probably want 'em to say something short and sweet.
James W. Wimberly, Jr. (20:24):
We don't have a union. We don't want one. And we'll try to keep 'em out and just listen and report back to some central person like HR as to what was said. And as Marty also mentioned, we will have give supervisors some guides on when they're to begin acting campaigning and how to actively campaign. There are various ways of doing this, but the first thought is, let's not do anything to begin organized. If we start off on the wrong foot, it can mess up everything. Now, one thing that tips companies over the edge is to when to respond is whether employees are signing union cards. Cause we know that if employees are signing union cards, that indicates an active campaign to organize our company before that, it just may be what we call just checking things out or
Martin H. Steckel (21:36):
James W. Wimberly, Jr. (21:37):
Broadcast it or whatever.
Martin H. Steckel (21:38):
They're in the neighborhood, Jim, like you were talking about. So they might as well stop by company B while they're around there and see if there's any nibbles.
James W. Wimberly, Jr. (21:51):
So I always want to know or hear whether union cards are being circulated and signed because if they are, the company needs at that point to, to be sure it comes out with an active campaign. What do we mean by a campaigns? Well, we recommend a slow escalation. Start soft and get more intense as time goes on. Adjusting the situation in the process based on what you know and what you've learned. You could start off by simply posting a notice, having somebody, a supervisor or other person go one-on-one with each individual employee. Another escalation is small group meetings, handouts, and video. A lot of videos are available that are helpful generally because they're professionally done fairly convincing legal proof of what's said. And if we have inarticulate management spokespeople or lack of good spokespeople, sometimes the video can do some of the work.
James W. Wimberly, Jr. (23:08):
Of course, unions alert the voters to all these things, the employees. And so, videos are not a cure all. But they're helpful. And I can't emphasize enough determining an appropriate company spokesperson. I had experienced in North Carolina a number of years ago where the vice president of production had held a position. The union plant knew all about unions. This was in the hill country of North Carolina or mountain country. He was southern. He had experience with unions. I think the company thought he would be an ideal spokesperson. And I, so he got up and addressed groups of workers saying that, Hey unions are bad. We don't want 'em, we're gonna fight him, and you should never sign a union card. Well, I'm not exaggerating. There's the greatest increase in union card signing they'd had. Now, the company ultimately won this election by big margin, but it just so happened that they picked as a spokesperson, a guy that e employees dislike the most, that they blame for all their problems.
James W. Wimberly, Jr. (24:31):
He can't be a company spokesperson. It's gotta be somebody as high up as possible. That's credible, that has a good relation with employees. Also it's helpful to learn the wages and benefits of nearby employers so we can compare what we offer without a union to what others are paying. It's particularly beneficial if we can find union plants that don't pay as well, don't have the benefits we do, or have other problems. All right, I'm gonna turn the AC campaign stage over to Marty. Marty. Marty, as I said, has kind of a genius about this. Cause he uses simple language, rather concise language that doesn't go very far. Take it over, Marty.
Martin H. Steckel (25:25):
Well, what I say also is you don't dumb down the language. You're not going to let me start start over. The first thing you gotta think of is these are educational campaigns. You don't win that much by threatening or promising people. Plus you also end up spending a lot of money on lawyers and Dan lawyers with litigation that comes up with the National Aid Relations Board, as well as generating hostility. And among various, since hundred groups, including sabotage that comes up. So we don't want to threaten or seduce people just educate them, which is why being on top of things and having a running start is so important because you it takes some time to get the message out. Grandfather here in central Georgia used to say, you, you can't push a string.
Martin H. Steckel (26:44):
And so you gotta lead people along, find out who's interested and who carry the water and the messages. But you wanna avoid un unfair labor practices. What the three things also you have to be mindful of that you want to avoid. You don't want to appear as if you don't know what's going on, don't care what's going on, or are afraid of what's going on. Any of those three things as a tendency to empower the people who are really salesman sales persons. And they get trained in sales techniques. And some of 'em are, are pretty good. And they're not all nasty people. They're some of them that are got it in the bone and they're just advocates and believe in it. And they're easy enough to, to deal with.
Martin H. Steckel (27:59):
The, which is one reason to pay attention to any mail or faxes you get from the National Aid Relations Board. Jim, how many times have we had it where the things have sat around for days or a week before we got notice that something was going on? I mean I know you had, I I've had it. Somebody was on vacation, they said they didn't open it or they didn't open it cause they didn't think it was important and so forth. Whereas that has to be attended to. I think that one of the things that you really need to do also is find out what the union is selling. They can, as Jim mentioned earlier, they can promise anything according to the rules. The National Labor Relations Board you can't promise anything if you have the power to implement it.
Martin H. Steckel (29:12):
The government presumes everybody knows the unions do not have the power or the authority to implement anything. They can make promises. They can speak to different people or d some people want more work. Well, we can get you more hours. Some people want less work. Well, we'll work on that. You won't have to work so much. It's but if you find out what they've been saying and disprove it and has a tendency like you know, taking a, a stack of cards or and pulling something out from it and weakening their argument the, again, that's why we want to take a look at any employees with union experience. They, they will, if it's done properly, people will come up to you as managers. If you indicate a willingness to listen and an interest in it.
Martin H. Steckel (30:29):
And if you take a, a soft soft touch, there is a method called non-directive questioning is developed originally outta Chicago Sears, when Sears was a big deal. Did that and frankly, I ran a company owned by a law firm that was with Smith Curry. And we interviewed 44,000 people one at a time. And you get a feel for I didn't do that. I had people doing it and I did probably a thousand. But it'll give you a feel for what people will do if you set it up not to be asking like you're cross-examining someone, someone or, or pro or persecuting someone.
James W. Wimberly, Jr. (31:28):
You're inviting people to respond to your comments. Yes. And that way you're drawing information outta 'em you couldn't otherwise get.
Martin H. Steckel (31:36):
Yep. And it, it's a matter, it's a small, small matter of how, how it's done.
James W. Wimberly, Jr. (31:44):
Well let me give you an example of this. This is the simplest form. You make a statement to a employee, a voter, or about the union campaign, and ask them if they have any questions. And then you remain silent. They gonna say something. Yeah. You learn a lot from that. You aren't interrogating them. They're volunteering information.
Martin H. Steckel (32:07):
And you, you don't have to hear
James W. Wimberly, Jr. (32:08):
From everybody. Yeah. And it, it may be on an issue in the campaign. I hear the union saying that I'm a monster running this plant that I discriminate, that I don't care about people. And, and frankly, this upsets me. But I guess some people feel that way. Do you have any questions or how can I help help you in your job?
Martin H. Steckel (32:38):
Yeah, I guess you can go to that. One of the, there, one thing to keep in mind also is that during the election process or the cycle you don't necessarily want to introduce new means of communication because that causes people to wonder why you are doing it. I'll give you some examples. One of the things that has been very, very helpful in a lot of places is having a committee of the whole, so that on a regular basis whether it's a plant manager or an upper level manager or several of them will just get together and buy people lunch just to get to know them. It's, it's handy for people to know that well, he's just a regular guy, really. And a lot of these folks are, but they see them in a different perspective. Out on the work room floor.
Martin H. Steckel (33:46):
If you're just sitting around at lunch and asking, you know, where are you from? What do you like to do? Are you a baseball fan or not? How many kids you've got, just getting to know them. And so it softens thing is also particularly important. And it's a little bit less so now, but in the south than it is in the northeast. There has been a tendency in the South for people not to address supervisors unless they're solicited and somebody asks them to. They keep their mouth shut. If you go up to the Northeast or Chicago, Detroit they'll grab hold of you <laugh> and say this or that. So if these little groups, and when I say little, I'm saying 10. Alright,
James W. Wimberly, Jr. (34:48):
Marty, let me, lemme make a couple of comments here based on the outline there. As Marty stated, you got to find out what the issues are. Marty called it, find out what the union selling and develop a plan on how to address that. Now sometime answering it is helpful. It can get tricky how you answer it. If you correct a problem that may be an unfair labor practice, you have granted a benefit and allowed the union to say, look what we got for you already. The company's already
Martin H. Steckel (35:27):
James W. Wimberly, Jr. (35:27):
This. That's just
Martin H. Steckel (35:28):
A, and that's, that's a a matter of touch. Yeah.
James W. Wimberly, Jr. (35:31):
The, the other concept maybe you say yeah, we've made mistakes. Admission of mistakes is all, is often health. Well, we can't do anything about it right now until this union's election's behind
Martin H. Steckel (35:45):
Us. Well, another thing, there are two other things that doing ahead of time sets up what you can do during a campaign a lot more. One is letters that go out to people's homes and to their family. That cause a lot of times the wifes are girlfriend or boyfriend are interested in what's going on. So just having something that goes out to the home occasionally,
James W. Wimberly, Jr. (36:16):
But find all the adverse information you can get on that union. Start with the union constitution, all kind of horrible things in the Constitution. You think our rule books, what do you read? A union constitution. Employees will be shocked. Where do you read the cases in which the union's been found to have wide chill and state cheated and her employees in the process read about situations about the strike violence they've conducted. There will be a a, a plan and a schedule. We've had plans and schedules 34, 40 pages long with the dates things are gonna happen, small group meetings, handouts, posters, videos.
James W. Wimberly, Jr. (37:09):
The top can't win it by themselves. Your spokesman can't win it by themselves. Your best campaigners are usually your first line supervisors. But they gotta know the themes. What, what things do we wanna project? This is why we normally escalate the campaigning and issues beginning with the unions of profit making business. The difference is they make money from you by collecting union duties. Because the first thing they demand in collective bargaining is the checkoff. Let 'em know how much it's gonna cost them. Let 'em know how difficult it is to get out of a checkoff to get rid of a union. And how many times does it surprise you all to know that in 60% of every election that a union has won, they never got a contract. They couldn't get the look at Starbucks. Right now Starbucks has lost 150 union elections over the last year. You know how many contracts a union has? Some Starbucks. Zero. My guess is it'll be another year or two before they have a chance of getting a contract with Starbucks. Meanwhile, I'll believe it or not Starbucks has improved pay and benefits and other things at its non-union facilities, but not at its union facilities. Cause the process of collecting bargaining is slow.
Martin H. Steckel (38:52):
That's walking a very fine line to do that too.
James W. Wimberly, Jr. (38:55):
It's walking a fine line. Yeah. That's what they're
Martin H. Steckel (38:59):
Doing. Oh yeah. The the other thing, Jim, is to find out what's going on. And we've got this on there. The on the last point, the community services or sponsorships of them if you're you know, sponsor a soccer team or a youth group or a basketball team or something so that you're participating within the community. One, the employees appreciate it. I think that and you get other people into it. So with an interest in getting back with you about it and the,
James W. Wimberly, Jr. (39:43):
Our interest of time, we gotta go the last second here. How long you only got five minutes left.
Martin H. Steckel (39:49):
Well, I'll take that.
James W. Wimberly, Jr. (39:51):
Active campaign stage. No, that's okay. So what do you do on a long term basis? You know that the number of union elections is up 60% over the last year. You know that the, the percentage of wins in elections is 75% almost an all time high. The unions say the labor halls are allowed to organize, is winning 75% of the elections not good enough for 'em. You know that we're an all time high, at least since World War ii or the percentage of the public that thinks unions are a good thing, 70% of the public. So what can you do to avoid this problem? What kinda complaint procedure you had? That's the first thing I asked every company. I never had a company tell me they didn't have a complaint procedure. Vast majority of 'em tell me have open door policy. I always like to ask them, what's the last time employees use the policy? How did they use it and what'd you do about it? Usually they can't answer that question. So I remember a famous non-union company years ago, Marty, you don't remember the name of it. The whole industry was union back prior to the sixties or or seventies. And this one company remained non-union cause of the president of the company, owner of the company had this reputation that anybody could come in and talk to him. He would listen to him and he would act. Do you remember which company
Martin H. Steckel (41:32):
He had? Brad Smith.
James W. Wimberly, Jr. (41:33):
Well, what was the name of the company? Federal Express. No, that sounds wonderful. That's the way Fred was. This was outta North Carolina. Oh, okay. Alright. Keeping up with what's going on in the plant. That's what Marty alluded to earlier. Walking around the plant, having get togethers. Very successful, very cheap, very helpful to improve the company. You meet with random groups of employees once a month, once a quarter. Explain to 'em what's going on in the company. Answer their questions and concerns. Not a big management re expenditure. You keep up with what's going on. You establish a good relationship with employees. And you know what employees say at these meetings. Most of the time they suggest something to make the company more efficient. Here I call 'em employee get togethers. Yeah. Union free orientation where you say something about the company's policy on unions to new employees.
James W. Wimberly, Jr. (42:33):
Can't tell you how many times an employee has come and reported union activity to the company. Cause they learned something from orientation about the company's fields about unions. So they wanted the supervisor to know having a good handbook. That's an answer to a union. C b a unions say you gotta have a contract to let you know where you stand. Well, that's what your handbook's for, but sometimes it hurts you more than helps you based on what you say. They're important. Keeping employees informed. Establish these prior communication precedents. Like Marty referred to occasional letters or whatever, training us and attitude of supervisors. You got some supervisors. I remember we had an election one time where the night shift manager was known as a tough guy. He was a tough guy, but everybody respected him. The night shift was overwhelmingly for the company. So it's, it's not, the training is is not necessary to give in on everything.
James W. Wimberly, Jr. (43:41):
It's having the right kinda attitude where you're viewed as a good guy and not a bad guy. Improving community relations. Smart companies have good relationship with community leaders because those community leaders will hear things and pass 'em on to the company. They are willing to, and sometimes make public statements or come in and tell employees, neither community leaders that the unions not in their best interests. The unions know this. So what do they do when they do in a community? They meet with the local pastors, other community groups and try to get 'em on their side and working for the union. Let's open for question Jim or Marty. This is Bobby Jones
Speaker 3 (44:31):
From the States for Georgia area. We have a major automotive factory being built in our area. The Hyundai plant near Savannah with a lot of infrastructure will be built around it. So this area is, I would call it ripe for a lot of union focus. Do you have any additional comments in this particular case then? You know, obviously what you just shared here in the last 30, 45 minutes,
Martin H. Steckel (45:08):
When you're running into a situation like that I think that sometimes a more sophisticated explanation of the economics seems to work. We had a, a plant in on north Alabama. It was called Dana, Dana Corporation which had some plating and izing and they also did some making DC motors for but General Motors opened up a Saginaw gear plant probably about 10 miles away saying they were gonna be you know, just competitive with wages and changed their mind. And the broom pushers at Saginaw were making more money than the supervisors at at Dana on we put together a film that was quite effective in explaining the fact that that's not what our competition is. We can't pay the same because we're not selling the same Saginaw gear had more money spent in equipment to make it. But so what's happening down there? We're, we're certainly familiar with your area, Bobby. That the plant that's going down there is to start and what business are you in, Bobby?
Speaker 3 (46:57):
We, we actually are an automotive manufacturer of bearings and steering systems for automotive.
Martin H. Steckel (47:04):
Well then, yeah, well then what you you're gonna have to do is start using a comparison because you, you can't compare yourself with Hyundai or some of these others. The the percentile will venture you a dollar to a donut hole that the percentage of direct labor costs at Hyundai is gonna be way lower than yours.
James W. Wimberly, Jr. (47:36):
Well, let me, let me And,
Martin H. Steckel (47:38):
And anyway, it's a, it's an educational process. Yeah. Which you better get going on
James W. Wimberly, Jr. (47:42):
Now. Alright. I, I, I agree with Marty totally that the starting point is to explain the different economics and the competitors and start that earlier rather than later. Lemme give you an example. You know, I told you the story about the night shift manager that was tough, but firm but fair, right? This was at the Refco warehouse in Knoxville. Yeah. And it just so happened that Refco warehouse in Chicago was organized by the teamsters and their pay there for identical jobs was twice that in Knoxville. So obviously the unions contended that you need to vote us in so you can share in all these goodies like we get in Chicago. And this was a tough thing to overcome. So <laugh>, this just shows there's different way to plan for different situations. We countered that by explaining the crime and cost of living in Chicago and said how difficult it was to hire anybody there.
James W. Wimberly, Jr. (48:59):
Cause they didn't wanna work under those union conditions and in the area and the cost of living and the crime, et cetera. And we, and did anybody that wanted to transfer up there, we have a transfer procedure in the company, but nobody's ever worried to transfer to Chicago <laugh>. So, <laugh>, I I'm just saying I understand why you asked the question. A lot of people in your part of Georgia are worried about that plant. But one thing you know is that e e except for a small little maintenance union unit unions have never organized a foreign auto manufacturer in the United States. So Hyundai is gonna fight unions like crazy. Number two the main problem is gonna be that it's gonna drive your, your, your job market, but it's also going to attract union organizers. Cause they would love to organize an auto plan.
James W. Wimberly, Jr. (50:06):
As you know, the one in Tennessee has Saturn, I guess it was, has had several elections. The unions have lost every time, but one small maintenance unit don't think they ever got a contract. So yeah, you gotta start planning for it now. And you might introduce very early in the process why you pay the way you do and, and how that relates to my Hyundai. But there are later plans that we can use like we used in Knoxville. It's good question. Well, thank, there's not one answer to it. The answer having a, if,
Martin H. Steckel (50:45):
If you wanna wanna talk about it some more, there's a bunch more examples and stuff that you can go take a a look at. But anybody else got any that's a, a great scenario to talk about by me.
Speaker 3 (51:03):
Yeah. Thank you. Thank you all for organizing this and as well as the questioning guidance you've provided.
James W. Wimberly, Jr. (51:10):
Thank you very much. See you later.