How Hiring Replacement Workers During a Strike Benefits Your Business

Labor disputes resulting in workplace strikes can have devastating effects not only on businesses, but also on local economies. However, if proper Business Continuity Planning has taken place, the fallout can be mitigated. The solution? Hiring replacement workers during a strike.

For its part, Strom Engineering provides a 5-step approach that empowers businesses to continue on and remain profitable with happy customers, even as they negotiate mutually beneficial agreements with their employees’ labor unions. The 5-step process is as follows:

Phase 1: Assessing the situation

Strom understands every business is different, has unique needs, and serves different audiences. That’s why early in the process, it’s important to establish an understanding of your business’s procedures, history, and culture. At this time, we’ll examine the following:

  • Labor distribution
  • Job descriptions and work aids
  • Processes and procedures
  • Production quotas

Phase 2: Recruiting the right temp workers

Strom draws from its large database of over 30,000 employees to find the right temp workers to assist your business during the dispute. We consider what skills your jobsite requires to function smoothly and recruit the right workers to carry out the business processes. In addition to our existing database, we recruit using:

  • Local and national recruiting
  • Job fairs
  • On-site recruitment

Phase 3: Establishing a pre-deployment strategy

It’s important for your business to maintain production promises to meet partner demands and to achieve proper customer satisfaction levels. The pre-deployment stage allows companies to strategically position the incoming temporary workforce to the local area so that they can be activated on short notice. Anticipating disruptions before an actual stoppage occurs ensures all prior business commitments are met.

Phase 4: Deploying the temporary workforce

The 4th part of the process involves executing, sending the temporary workforce to your actual jobsites, with all logistics taken into account. During the deployment stage, we’ll cover scheduling, housing, transportation of workers to and from jobsites, orientation and training, management protocols, and the establishment of performance standards, the latter of which ensures that high expectations are met.

Phase 5: Disbanding the workforce when it’s time

Temporary workforces allow you to be flexible. You can scale up to fill voids left by strikes and scale down and disband once labor negotiation resolutions occur. The disbandment process is swift and involves an assessment of each onsite project to help transition from a temporary workforce back to a permanent one. Additionally, the disbandment process includes an evaluation to see how effective the operation was and make recommendations to update your business continuity plan accordingly.

The Benefits

Each of the 5 phases is designed to benefit your company during what would otherwise be work stoppages. You’ll be able to meet demands, stay profitable, keep prior agreements, satisfy customers, and keep the overall reputation of your business intact.

Have more questions regarding the use of replacement workers during a strike? Contact the professionals at Strom Engineering today.

How to Analyze and Improve Business Processes

An overall audit or examination of your business’s current processes, especially if your company is involved in manufacturing, has the ability to significantly cut down on waste with the result of drastically improving workplace efficiency. When it concerns how to improve manufacturing processes throughout your business, you’ll want to consider the following:

Outline the entire manufacturing process

One of the first things you’ll want to do is outline the entire production process itself — all the way from the workers needed to attend to the production line, to the machines themselves. What technology needs to be updated? Exactly what parts of the manufacturing process are slowing you down? Exactly whom do you have scheduled, and are there enough workers with the right skillsets assigned to handle each unique part of the process? Perhaps you need to provide more training or change things up.

Analyze the costs closely & share the data

The evidence that you’re becoming more efficient in the manufacturing process can be seen in your financials. Gather the data, closely track it, and share it among your workforce — most especially with your project managers. Familiarizing them with the costs will empower them to cut down on all things wasteful they experience day-to-day.

Prepare for issues that could halt production

Machines break, so be prepared for this and any other kind of issues that could cause the entire manufacturing process to go awry. Devise backup plans and review how to fix issues before actual problems occur.

Embrace automation

The little things add up, whether it’s using an outdated program that makes entering data an arduous task or a machine that requires manual control. The goal here is to automate more things about the workflow process so that your employees have more time to be productive in other areas that deserve attention. In effect, labor costs can be reduced and you can increase on-the-job safety.

Take advantage of scalable workforces

Having the ability to scale your workforce up during peak production periods, then scale down when you’re not as busy allows you to cut out unnecessary downtime and push harder when it matters most. For increased scalability, consider utilizing a managed workforce.

Need more ideas on how to improve business processes for your company? Strom can help. Contact us today.

Labor Dispute Preparation 101: How Temporary Staffing Can Help

Labor disruptions can occur for any number of reasons ranging from strikes to natural disasters. No matter what the cause, these disruptions have the potential to negatively impact your business. Because of the unpredictability of these events, it’s important that you have a plan in place that sufficiently addresses anything that could threaten your business’s operational efficiency.

By taking the advantages of utilizing a temporary workforce into consideration, you can properly prepare in a way that emphasizes continuity amid adversity. Below are the benefits of temporary staffing agencies and how you can utilize these workforces to your advantage:

Temporary workforces are mobile
Strom Engineering has the ability to deploy a temporary workforce on a rapid basis. Unlike traditional staffing companies, they can handle many of the logistics as well, whether it’s housing, transportation, or anything in-between.

Temporary workforces offer flexibility
Since they are not restricted by ‘Union work rules’ a temporary workforce offers the flexibility a permanent workforce can lack. Also once your labor dispute is resolved, the temporary workforce can be disbanded. This allows you to return to normal operations without repercussions.

Temporary workforces are pre-trained
At Strom, we maintain a large database of employees, all with relevant project experience. Upon working with Strom, we can identify the right employees that can meet your business’s unique manufacturing and operational demands.

Temporary workforces assist with continuity
The deployment of temporary workforces emphasizes continuity of business operations. When it comes to how to prepare for a strike, you can demonstrate to a union that your business is still meeting its obligations by adding a temporary work force and deploying it. This can allow you to achieve leverage during the negotiation process.

Temporary workforces can be cost effective
When managed correctly, temporary workforces can save you both time and money by working outside of the restrictions of ‘union work rules.’ This additional flexibility in the workforce often times allows clients to reduce their overall workforce size required to operate. With fewer slowdowns, increased production, and reduced labor hours per unit, Strom allows you to remain profitable.

For more information regarding how a temporary workforce can assist you ahead of a labor disruption, contact the experts at Strom Engineering today.

How Does Collective Bargaining Protect Employers & Employees?

For many larger companies, collective bargaining represents an integral part of the employer-employee relationship – but exactly what is it? In simplest terms, it’s the process in which employees band together to negotiate job details such as wages and working conditions with the business that’s employing them. The idea here is that when employees join with one another, they have strength in numbers and therefore, more negotiating leverage to receive any desired employment terms.

Employees don’t typically do the negotiating themselves, however. In most cases, a labor union negotiates on their behalf with the representatives of their employer. The goal is to reach a bargaining agreement or contract that’s suitable for both sides. When employees collectively bargain, there are usually a number of goals in mind, including those that are protective in nature:

Wages: Unions work to achieve higher pay for their members.

Hours: Unions work to ensure that employment hours are suitable to the liking of their members. Additionally, they work to ensure that employees receive extra pay for any overtime hours their members work.

Safety: Unions negotiate with the employer to ensure that workplace conditions are safe enough for the employees to work in. They also work to ensure that proper training protocols are in place.

Grievances: Unions and employers work to ensure that proper grievance protocols are in place. Should an employee believe the terms of the bargaining contract are violated – how do they address it with the employer and resolve the issue?

Job Statuses: Unions and employers work to ensure that employee job statuses can’t be arbitrarily terminated without justification.

Other Benefits: Paid time off, sick leave, maternity leave, health coverage, retirement benefits, and other issues may also be on the negotiating table.

Collective Bargaining Protects Both Sides

How does collective bargaining protect employees? An employee workforce that isn’t collectively united together may not be seen as standing on equal footing in terms of the employer-employee relationship. By combining into one, the result allows employees to better represent their goals – especially in terms of the aforementioned issues. They can protect their rights, their job statuses, and work with better peace-of-mind.

How does collective bargaining protect employers? A negotiated collective bargaining agreement that is seen as beneficial to both sides has a number of benefits for the employer: The employer can rest assured that workplace morale is kept up. Additionally, the employer can take into consideration the concerns of their workforce – especially in regards to providing a safe work environment; when addressed, this can improve workforce standards and ensure that any onsite accidents are kept to a minimum.

Need help handling the collective bargaining process with your employees’ union? Contact the experts at Strom Engineering today.

Cost Considerations for Business Contingency Planning

A contingency plan is defined as the following: A strategy that can be put into practice in the event that a problematic circumstance threatens to affect your business’s operations. This can mean anything from a storm knocking your company’s data center offline, to unexpected costs arising as you look to wrap up a major project.

The contingency plan is, therefore, designed to ensure that your business continues to operate without any disruptions – or at least, with as few as possible. Needless to say, this means that having an effective plan readily available should be one of your highest priorities. But how do you go about maintaining one while taking cost considerations into account? Keep the following in mind:

Tie Business Contingency Cost peak Planning Directly to Your Budget

Any contingency plan should be closely associated with your business’s overall budget. Money may need to be set aside in a lock box, so to speak – meaning that funds are readily available only in the instance that an emergency situation arises.

Take Murphy’s Law Into Consideration

Think long-term. Murphy’s Law states: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong. To negate Murphy’s Law, identify the most common type of disruptions unique to your business and determine an estimation of costs that correspond with each.

The Cost of Business Contingency Planning VS the Cost of Facing an Emergency Unprepared

Prioritizing a savings amount for a contingency plan may cost you financially in the short-term, but will also provide you with peace-of-mind in the long-term. Take into consideration what you put at risk by not having a properly funded contingency plan: The inability to pay valued employees who could leave as a result, the loss of customers, your standing as a trusted provider in your respective industry, and potentially – a complete shutdown of operations that could threaten your company’s long-term viability in the market.

Should something threaten to disrupt your business, you can rest assured that saving for a contingency plan will likely cost you a whole lot less compared to if you were to face an incident without having properly saved.

The Verdict

Budgeting and financial management considerations are certainly paramount when formulating any plan. In the end, contingency planning is all about making unforeseen consequences foreseen – and properly preparing to financially cover them. This will ensure that your business keeps high morale and stays effective, even in the most trying of times.

How to Prepare for Labor Union Contract Negotiations

The inability to reach agreements in labor disputes can have profound consequences not only for the operations of the businesses in question, but also for workforces – whether it’s lost wages, deceases in general morale, or simply adding new complications to peoples’ everyday routines. Needless to say, a lot is at stake. This means that when any labor negotiation is about to occur, a lot of strategic prep work is required on both sides. Below we talk a bit about what you should focus on as your business considers how to prepare for labor negotiations.

Done deal

 

Try to get a Pulse on how your workforce feels
How is current company morale? How employees have dealt with HR can be indicative of their needs in the workplace. Make sure you understand what your workforce is seeking as you head into union negotiations.

Determine flexibility
Naturally, labor unions are going to try and get the best deals possible for their members. You’re going to be asked to make compromises and while you want what’s best for your employees, you’ll want to make sure that any concessions you might make don’t harm your operating costs. You’ll want to take into account things like healthcare benefits, paid sick leave, parental leave, vacation, hours, and most importantly, wages. How flexible can you be in the aforementioned areas without hurting your business financially? Simply said, you’ve got to know where to put your foot down.

Compile & familiarize yourself with all the data
Getting all the documents organized is extremely important. You’re going to want to have an accurate and in-depth breakdown of all your labor costs – accounting for things like hours (including OT), benefit costs (sorted by each benefit), and finally, a timeline that shows how your labor level has trended over an extended period of time. Having properly sorted data that you’re already familiar with and can use for quick reference will allow you to be quick on your feet during the negotiation process.

Examine past dealings with the union
Be prepared and knowledgeable regarding your company’s previous dealings with the union. This is usually a pretty good indicator of the strategy the other side is going to use once again. The union is likely to repeat a push for some of the things you didn’t concede last time around; how effectively you were able to counter whatever it was, are you willing to concede it this time around (has your business performance changed?) and if not, how big of an obstacle is it in ultimately reaching an agreement?

Have a backup plan
Prepare for the possibility that you might not be able to reach a resolution with the labor union as soon as you’d like. That’s why it’s important that you have a solid contingency plan in place – assuring that your business is able to continue to operate without disruption until you’re ultimately able to reach an agreement with the other side. For help in this area, view Strom’s consulting services. We can help you set up a well-thought-out backup plan that’ll ensure your business’s stability as you go through the negotiation process.

Conclusion
When it comes to labor contract negotiations, there are many factors that play a part in successfully reaching deals. Thinking on the spot without much preparation is not an option. By making sure everything’s properly organized and ready to go, you’ll be much more likely to find consensus and negotiate a deal that makes everyone happy.

What’s the Difference? Business Continuity, Disaster Recovery, & Labor Contingency Planning

Both disaster recovery and business continuity share one thing in common: they require well-thought-out plans in instances where things go wrong – allowing businesses to continue functioning in a way that’s as seamless as possible. By understanding the difference between business continuity & disaster recovery, you’ll be able to properly form and assign responsibilities to particular segments of your organization – allowing your team members to effectively carry out tasks when faced with difficult situations.

businessman is examine document and woman is working on laptop c

Business Continuity Plan

Business continuity is, in fact, a broad company plan that includes steps regarding how an organization will continue to operate in the event that it’s faced with an occurrence that would otherwise cause disruption. This encompasses numerous aspects of the business – all of which play an integral part in ensuring that the company is able to continue operating effectively. To start planning a continuity plan, businesses should analyze their most important services/products, ask exactly what allows them to make those available, and then determine exactly how to back up those factors that provide availability.

Disaster Recovery Plan

On the other hand, disaster recovery is just one part of an organization’s overall business continuity plan. It primarily refers to a business’s ability to recover data when there’s some kind of technical failure, fire at a data center, storm that results in facility damage, or some other kind of technical issue. Therefore, an effective disaster recovery plan should involve all aspects of the business, so operations can continue despite whatever incident has occurred.

Labor Contingency Planning

Similar to disaster recovery planning, Labor Contingency is just one portion of the overall Business Continuity Plan. The primary focus is to plan for an unforeseen labor stoppage. This could be in the form of a union dispute, natural disaster, shortage of available skilled workers, or even if you are in a ‘job island’ and cannot find the necessary workforce to meet seasonal demand. Having a well thought out plan in place allows the company to remain flexible. By bringing in temporary replacement workers to supplement or even replace the normal workforce, companies are able to continue to remain profitable even during labor strife.

Recovery

Incidents that threaten your business’s performance are, without a doubt, extremely challenging. However, when you take the time to plan and, by understanding the similarities and differences between business continuity, disaster recovery, and labor contingency planning, you can make sure you’re best prepared to handle whatever you’re confronted with. Additionally by taking the opportunity to look at previous challenging times, and then creating a plan that covers any previous issues and how they were dealt with, your plan will continue to improve. This will allow you to keep your business on track, ensure morale remains high for both employees and customers, and maintain profits.

Lock-in Versus Lock-out

Lock-in vs. Commuting during a Strike

Certain variables may warrant consideration of a “lock-in” scenario upon the onset of a union strike. These variables include:

  • Location of operations
  • Availability of resources and amenities in surrounding communities
  • Anticipated level of picket line aggression

The primary purpose of a lock-in is to reduce or eliminate the crossing of the picket line by salaried workers, temporary employees, or both, by establishing on-property accommodations and amenities. Most commonly, lock-ins are a short-term solution to unruly or mass picketing, and once injunctions have been put into place and are actively enforced, all personnel are able to enter and leave the facility on a daily basis.

Lock-In of Temporary Strike Replacement Workers

Strom’s experience has shown that with proper planning and preparations, lock-in of temporary workers can usually be avoided, which translates to a cost-savings for our clients and a maintained high morale of Strom employees.

Lock-In of Salaried Personnel

The lock-in of salaried personnel presents unique challenges in maintaining morale of employees, which may affect safety and performance. It is crucial in a salaried lock-in scenario that clear assumptions and expectations are communicated to employees prior to lock-in, and that additional emphasis is placed on monitoring for any adverse affects the lock-in may generate. Remember, no salaried employee may be forced into a lock-in scenario or locked-in against his or her will.

Comparison of a Strike and Lockout

Contact us today to speak with a member of our leadership team. We would be happy to share some of our experiences regarding strikes and lockout situations.

According to Wikipedia, A lockout is a work stoppage in which an employer prevents employees from working. This is different from a strike, in which employees refuse to work. A lockout is purely a company decision and may happen for several reasons. When only part of a trade union votes to strike, the purpose of a lockout is to put pressure on a union by reducing the number of members who are able to work.

For example, if the anticipated strike severely hampers work of non-striking workers, the employer may declare a lockout until the workers end the strike. Another case in which an employer may impose a lockout is to avoid slowdowns or intermittent work-stoppages. Other times, particularly in the United States, a lockout occurs when union membership rejects the company’s final offer at negotiations and offers to return to work under the same conditions of employment as existed under the now-expired contract. In such a case, the lockout is designed to pressure the workers into accepting the terms of the company’s last offer.

Local versus National Workforce – Know the Difference

The difference between hiring temporary workers from your local labor pool and a national workforce is an important consideration, especially during a labor disruption or other crisis situation. Choosing a national workforce for temporary job replacement eliminates many issues that would arise with hiring local workers. For example, national temporary replacement workers are:

  • Known commodities with proven skills – many have worked for Strom in this capacity for 5, 10, or even 15 years
  • Disinterested in local worker issues
  • Well-disciplined and used to working in a less than desirable environment
  • Drug-tested, background checked, with certifications, licensing, and related documentation verified
  • Focused and productive

From our experience, here are the main points of difference:

Local workforce

Potential family conflict and job performance – Many local job replacement candidates live in, or grew up in, the area affected by the labor disruption and could potentially have family or friends affected by the work stoppage, which can lead to a negative atmosphere in the community, especially if a family member or friend is involved. Recruiting from Strom’s national database of candidates removes this potential problem. It is also much more likely that workers will be pulled away for personal matters when they have family close by, which might negatively affect attendance or performance.

Lack of resources and industry-specific experience – With the inevitable lack of resources using a small pool of local candidates, the speed at which the replacement workers can be recruited, deployed and available for an unexpected work stoppage, decreases, as opposed to using Strom’s national database of candidates. Additionally, it is much more difficult to find local workers with not only the appropriate job qualifications, but the industry-specific work experience your company needs. Strom’s workers have experience in a wide variety of industries and job classifications.

Stressful to company management – It is crucial that management has familiarity with workers’ work habits and personalities. When working with Strom Engineering, management can work with Strom Field Supervisors who manage the replacement workforce directly. This enables an easier transition for company personnel to cope with new work habits and personalities.

National workforce

Strom utilizes a national database of 25,000 – Choosing a national workforce eliminates many issues that come from local temporary workers. Strom has access to 25,000 skilled and industry-specific experienced workers. These workers are able to hit the ground running on day one of the work stoppage. Strom’s recruiting territory is not limited to a small area, rather from all over the U.S., with exact skill sets required by our clients.

Full-time recruiters of strike replacement labor – Strom has a full time recruiting staff that recruits only people who are skilled/experienced and supportive of crossing potentially hostile picket lines. Our philosophy is to ensure our workers’ main priority is to complete the project according to the requirements by our clients.

Supervisors trained in crossing picket lines – Local workers could potentially have to cross a violent picket line risking harm to their personal property. Using Strom’s workforce, crossing a picket line is made easier by driving in Strom personnel in Strom vehicles driven by picket line trained drivers who are familiar with the logistical challenges.

Strom workforce is more efficient – Our workforce is managed by a Strom Supervisor who acts as the liaison with company management. In most cases, a Strom workface can operate a facility with one-third less the workforce it takes the company to operate it. Many of the deployed Strom workforces have worked for Strom for years and our supervisors know the work habits and personalities of the individual workers. Supervisors handle all the daily management functions, time keeping, and human resources functions.

Permanent Versus Temporary Replacements

In the United States, under federal labor law, an employer may only hire temporary replacements during a lockout – not permanent replacements. An employer may legally hire permanent replacements during a strike, unless it is an unfair labor practice (ULP) strike. If the company hires permanent replacement workers anyway, and unfair labor practice (ULP) charges are upheld, the company can be penalized and federal contracts can be cancelled.

From the perspective of a labor and employee relations lawyer, here are the differences between using permanent versus temporary replacement workers:

Hiring temporary replacement workers is an advantageous move when the company is trying to keep the current workforce:

  • Hiring temps in a labor disruption situation saves relationships
  • Temp workers are a good staffing strategy in regions where there are not a lot of local skilled workers
  • Easily replaceable and good relationship with workers

When the company and union leaders have had extremely long disagreements over make-or-break issues, and a bad relationship with employees, a permanent replacement workforce would be advantageous.