Business Labor Continuity Resources

Planning for potential labor stoppages can be a confusing process. We have compiled a comprehensive list of terms and related topics often mentioned with business continuity planning.

Bargaining Tactics

  • Wildcat strike – a random strike without notice or formal union authorization
  • Sit-down strike – when workers occupy the workplace but refuse either to do their jobs or to leave
  • Work-to-rule – an unconventional tactic in which workers perform their tasks exactly as they are required (“by the rule”) to but no better. For example, workers might follow all safety regulations in such a way that it impedes their productivity or they might refuse to work overtime. Such strikes may in some cases be a form of “partial strike” or “slowdown”.
  • Slowdown – union workers decrease productivity because the union contract expiration is approaching and negotiations are not going well
  • Sick-out – the union tells everyone in a specific department to all call in sick on the same day, forcing operations to temporarily shut down
  • Increased reporting – increased reporting of incidents, violations, OSHA claims, and worker’s compensation claims

A business continuity plan from Strom Engineering helps companies prepare for bargaining tactics like these, and negotiate from a position of strength.

Co-employment Issues

A skilled, strike-experienced, managed workforce from Strom Engineering insulates clients from co-employment issues since we manage the workforce, not our client, and as such, our field coordinators are getting direction from the plant manager. A claim of co-employment could pull an unfair labor practice (ULP) claim from the union.

Business Continuity Plan

A business continuity plan is a guide devised for a specific business interruption like a union strike or natural disaster. Often referred to as a business continuity plan, they are regularly devised by governments or businesses who want to be prepared for anything that could happen. During times of crisis, business continuity plans are frequently developed to explore and prepare for any eventuality.

Crossdock

Cross-docking is a practice in logistics of unloading materials from an incoming semi-trailer truck or rail car and loading these materials directly into outbound trucks, trailers, or rail cars, with storage as needed in between. It is a physically separate venue leased, under the Strom Engineering name, with the intention of insulating the facility from picket activities. Out-of-sight, out-of-mind of the union is the theory, to help prevent tampering with materials. A Crossdock strategy is a component of a PlayBook from the Strom Consulting team that

  • Ensures delivery of material into operations as well as finished product and waste/refuse out of the facility
  • Eliminate issues associated with union suppliers refusing to cross the picket line
  • Recommended to lease well ahead of time to put existing stock
  • Reduces onsite inventory

Labor Relations

Labor relations is the dynamics between management and bargaining units. In the United States, labor relations in the private sector is regulated by the National Labor Relations Act. Strom Engineering advises companies to deal with bargaining units from a position of strength.

Lockout

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. 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.

Lock-In

The term lock-in refers to the practice of physically preventing workers from leaving a workplace.

Managed Workforce

A managed workforce is a provisional group of temporary contract workers and management who work for an organization on a non-permanent basis. A managed workforce from Strom Engineering:

  • Saves time and money by utilizing a trained, certified and licensed workforce to enable you to virtually eliminate training time and start production immediately
  • Brings experienced onsite project managers who work closely with your management and our employees to enforce objectives and ensure production goals are accomplished efficiently and on-schedule
  • Provides a breadth of applicable and transferrable industry knowledge
  • Includes unmatched flexibility in shifts, personnel numbers, hours per week
  • Ensures that all employees are motivated and well-trained, while drastically reducing inefficiencies associated with tardiness, turnover, retraining and retention

Strom Engineering invented managed workforces and it is very relevant to staffing for strikes, since the insulating factor of our managed workforces protects you from any co-employment issues.

PlayBook

A PlayBook is a how-to manual for what to do before, during, and after a strike to assign specific responsibilities of non-union personnel in order to prepare for potential strike action or any business interruption, like a natural disaster. Our PlayBooks are custom-created for each client and are step-by-step manuals that a company follows in the event of a labor disruption. The Strom Consulting team develops a PlayBook as a deliverable for Business continuity Planning.

Strike

A strike is a work stoppage caused by the mass refusal of employees to work. A strike usually takes place in response to employee grievances. Most strikes are undertaken by labor unions during collective bargaining and, according to Wikipedia, the objective of collective bargaining is to obtain a contractual agreement between the union and the company. The strike is typically reserved as a threat of last resort during negotiations between the company and the union, which may occur just before, or immediately after, the contract expires. Generally, strikes are rare: according to the News Media Guild, 98% of union contracts in the United States are settled each year without a strike. Having a step-by-step manual that helps a company and its managers prepare for, and respond to, a strike, is crucial in order to maintain profitability.

Major Types of Strikes

United States labor law also draws a distinction, in the case of private sector employers covered by the National Labor Relations Act, between “economic” and “unfair labor practice” strikes.

  • Economic Strike: An employer may not fire, but may permanently replace, workers who engage in a strike over economic issues
  • Non-economic ULP Strike: Employers who commit unfair labor practices (ULPs) may not permanently replace employees who strike over ULPs. Employers may utilize Strom Engineering’s temporary replacement worker services during a ULP strike.
  • Impasse: Neither side of the bargaining table is willing to negotiate further

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