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Group walking out of a tunnel

Dealing with Walk-outs at Non-union Plants

It seems to be a trend not only in the U.S., but around the world, for there to be a flurry of protests and walk-outs.  Strike activity in the U.S., for example, is at the highest level in several years, after many years of extremely low levels of such activities.  But now we seem to have a similar trend in often spontaneous walk-outs in even non-union plants in the U.S.

First, a brief review of the legal rules.  A concerted walk-out, even in a non-union facility, is a protected, concerted activity.  Therefore, employees may not be terminated or even disciplined for engaging in such activities.  There are three exceptions, however, in special circumstances. 

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For employers concerned about union organizing campaigns, the so-called "quickie" union election rules promulgated in 2014 were among the most dangerous things ever to hit labor law - only surpassed by the "card-check" proposals.  Unions try to keep their campaigns secret for as long as possible, so they can develop a solid majority for unionization without the employer having an opportunity to respond.  Unions therefore time their filing of election petitions so as to be filed when there is maximum union strength.  Unions know that in their counter-union campaigns, management will explain the disadvantages of unionization, and therefore unions hope to hold onto their majority in the time period between the filing of the election petition and the holding of the secret ballot election.  The longer the campaign period for the election, the more likely it is that the once-majority support for the union will dissipate.

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Wimberly, Lawson, Steckel, Schneider & Stine

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