Landrum Human Resource Companies Blog


Update on Dispute Regarding National Labor Relations Board Election Process

March 8, 2012

Update on Dispute Regarding
National Labor Relations Board Election Process

As reported in our December 30, 2011 blog, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued final rules that would significantly shorten the campaign period prior to an election for union representation. You can access our previous blog post here.

At the present time, Congressional Republicans are working to repeal these new rules before it takes effect on April 30, 2012. Senators Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Phil Gingrey (R-GA) have introduced a joint resolution that, if passed, would nullify the NLRB’s quick election rule.

Senate supporters of the Enzi/Gingrey joint resolution are likely to force a vote on the resolution in late March or April. The joint resolution needs only a simple majority (51 votes) to pass the Senate, not the 60 votes it usually takes to defeat a Senate filibuster. If the resolution passes both the House and Senate and is not vetoed by President Obama, the quick election rule would be repealed.

We will continue to update you as we approach the planned effective date of April 30th.

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Jim Guttmann, SPHR

As a Landrum Professional Human Resources Manager, Jim is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and has over 20 years of HR generalist experience for a large government contractor and Fortune 500 Company. He holds a Masters in Business Administration from Florida State University and is an active member of the Greater Pensacola Chapter of the Society for Human Resources Management (GPCSHRM), previously serving as their Vice President of Information Services and Chairman of the Workplace Diversity Committee. Jim is also certified as a County Mediator and in the administration of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).



National Labor Relations Board Amends Election Process
December 30, 2011, 3:42 pm
Filed under: Human Resources, Landrum, Notes from Jim

 December 30, 2011

National Labor Relations Board Amends Election Process

by Jim Guttmann, SPHR

Although Unions were not successful in getting Congress to pass the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently stepped forward to issue final rules that may have a significant bearing on union organizing efforts.  The final rule, effective April 30, 2012, amends the Board’s election procedures. The NLRB’s stated purpose for this change in election procedures is to reduce unnecessary litigation and delays in the representation election process.  For an overview of these procedural changes, click here

 

Why are these procedural changes significant?  Under the old procedures, the median period of time from when a union filed a petition for representation at a given worksite to the subsequent election by employees took 38 days. Under the new procedures, most directed elections will occur within 15-20 days of the date of the petition. 

 

Some employers (and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce) are opposed to this significant shortening of the “campaign period” because they believe that it doesn’t afford companies enough time to tell their side of the story to employees as to why they don’t need a union to represent them.  They are disturbed by this NLRB initiative and have referred to this new ruling as the “ambush election rule”. Efforts are already underway by some organizations to block the new regulation from going into effect on April 30th.

 

We will keep you apprised as to how this situation plays out in the months ahead.

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Jim Guttmann, SPHR

As a Landrum Professional Human Resources Manager, Jim is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and has over 20 years of HR generalist experience for a large government contractor and Fortune 500 Company. He holds a Masters in Business Administration from Florida State University and is an active member of the Greater Pensacola Chapter of the Society for Human Resources Management (GPCSHRM), previously serving as their Vice President of Information Services and Chairman of the Workplace Diversity Committee. Jim is also certified as a County Mediator and in the administration of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).



NLRB Poster Requirement Delayed
December 27, 2011, 3:51 pm
Filed under: Human Resources, Notes from Jim
December 27, 2011
 

NLRB Poster Requirement Delayed

by Jim Guttmann, SPHR

 

Several months ago we notified our clients of a new notice-posting requirement by the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board), mandating that employers post a Notice of Employee Rights.   For the second time, the deadline for posting this notice has been postponed and the new posting date is April 30, 2012.  According to the Board’s press release, this further postponement gives the Board the opportunity to “facilitate the resolution of…legal challenges.”

Once resolved, we will notify you and if needed, forward the required posters to each of our clients.  The NLRB has mandated that the notice be put on an oversized 11 x 17 poster.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call Landrum and discuss with your HR manager.

____________________________________________________________________________________

Jim Guttmann, SPHR

As a Landrum Professional Human Resources Manager, Jim is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and has over 20 years of HR generalist experience for a large government contractor and Fortune 500 Company. He holds a Masters in Business Administration from Florida State University and is an active member of the Greater Pensacola Chapter of the Society for Human Resources Management (GPCSHRM), previously serving as their Vice President of Information Services and Chairman of the Workplace Diversity Committee. Jim is also certified as a County Mediator and in the administration of the



National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Posting Requirement
November 17, 2011

National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Posting Requirement  

by Jim Guttmann, SPHR

Wouldn’t you agree that certain topics often generate strong feelings and differences of opinion when mentioned? For instance, I’m sure most of you realize that public expressions of beliefs on politics or religion can sometimes create discord.  Another topic that some might put in that same category is any discussion of unions.  As a result, many of us often avoid discussing these topics when in the workplace or at family re-unions, etc.

On the subject of unions, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently issued a final rule that will require most private-sector employers to notify workers of their rights guaranteed under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Under this new rule now scheduled to go into effect on January 31, 2012, most private-sector employers will be required to post a “notice of employee rights” where workplace notices are normally displayed (including company internet or intranet sites, as applicable). The notice applies to all businesses subject to NLRA but excludes agricultural, railroad and airline employers and the U.S. Postal Service. The notification requirement also does not apply to small employers that conduct less than $50,000 worth of business across state lines.

 The notice explains that under the NLRA employees have the right to: 

1. Organize a union to negotiate with the company concerning wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment.

2. Form, join or assist a union.

3. Bargain collectively through representatives of employees’ own choosing for a contract with the company setting wages, benefits, hours, and other working conditions.

4. Discuss wages and benefits and other terms and conditions of employment or union organizing with co-workers or a union.

5. Take action with one or more co-workers to improve working conditions by, among other means, raising work-related complaints directly with the company or with a government agency, and seeking help from a union.

6. Strike and picket, depending on the purpose or means of the strike or the picketing.

7. Choose not to do any of these activities, including joining or remaining a member of a union. 

Those employers subject to this law risk an unfair labor practice charge and could face legal action from the NLRB if they fail to comply with the notification rule.  For more information, please refer to:   https://www.nlrb.gov/poster

Having broached this highly sensitive matter, I would like to offer my perspective from experiences on both sides of this issue; 1) as a former employee in a labor union’s administrative department, 2) as a former company representative during union avoidance campaigns, union negotiations and during union grievance processes,  and 3) as a private sector non-union employee. My experiences have ranged from instances in which the company and union worked in a very collaborative manner to situations in which matters were very contentious and difficult between the company and union.

Here’s what I believe experts on both sides of the issue would likely agree represents a work environment in which unions often become very appealing to employees: 

1.  A work environment in which employees are not treated in a fair and consistent manner by their boss and the company offers no true avenue whereby issues and concerns can be properly addressed.  The lines of communication between employees and their management are poor. Employees perceive that having a union will offer that voice that they don’t now have.

2.  A work environment in which employees do not receive competitive wages and benefits and/or the company does not comply with federal regulations concerning wage and hour laws, safety, non-discrimination and harassment avoidance etc. Employees perceive that having a union will hold the company accountable in offering suitable pay, benefits and working conditions. 

As the new NLRB rule regarding posting notices goes into effect next year, many employers should assess how they are doing with respect to their work environments and whether the new posting requirement will draw significant interest from their employees.  Here’s what is suggested that you review as part of your self-assessment: 

1. Benefits ( meeting industry standards for your area)

2. Wages (that are fair and competitive)

3. HR Policies (that comply with employment laws)

4. Culture (whereby all employees are treated fairly and consistently)

5. Trained supervisors (who know how to create/maintain a healthy work environment)

6. Safe work environment (in which employee safety is a top priority) 

Since compliance with the new law cannot be avoided for most employers, it would be prudent for companies to start a self-assessment process now (if they have not already done so) rather than putting off thought/discussion of a topic that they may find uncomfortable.  
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Jim Guttmann, SPHR

As a Landrum Professional Human Resources Manager, Jim is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and has over 20 years of HR generalist experience for a large government contractor and Fortune 500 Company. He holds a Masters in Business Administration from Florida State University and is an active member of the Greater Pensacola Chapter of the Society for Human Resources Management (GPCSHRM), previously serving as their Vice President of Information Services and Chairman of the Workplace Diversity Committee. Jim is also certified as a County Mediator and in the administration of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).



You’re Leaving the Company – But What’s Your Legacy?

October 19, 2011

You’re Leaving the Company – But What’s Your Legacy?

by Jim Guttmann, SPHR

     Let your imagination run rampant for a moment as we explore a very common situation in today’s world. As an employee of Backward Thinking, Inc., you hold a position of Operations Director in which you are responsible for supervising a staff of 20 employees. You’ve been with Backward Thinking for 20 years now, having built an outstanding reputation and remarkable track record of achievement with the Company. You really enjoy your role there and without a doubt you are a vital member of the management team. But, as you approach the later part of your working career you’ve been privately considering a new adventure in life; the pursuit of a dream of owning your own company that makes banana bread. You didn’t want to share that dream with anyone else at work for fear of repercussions from Backward Thinking management if they knew you had any thoughts of possibly leaving your job. After all, who thinks anyone would ever leave Backward Thinking?

     Suddenly, a perfect opportunity for starting this business comes up and it just happens to be where the rest of your family lives. It’s an offer you can’t refuse. After carefully thinking this decision over, you deliver a bombshell to everyone at work that you will be leaving in a couple of months. I realize that it may be hard to believe, but your staff and management team who have put their faith and trust in you over the years are not exactly thrilled with the news. They are left wondering who could possibly fill your shoes, especially on such short notice. As you consider their feelings on the matter and how company operations will be hindered for the near term, you start to feel a bit conflicted. You start thinking about your legacy and what kind of thoughts and feelings that co-workers will have about you in years to come. You get a sinking feeling because the last impression they will have of you is that of an individual leaving them without someone being there to carry on the mission for which you’ve laid such a solid foundation. Your legacy is ruined!

     Okay, it’s really no time to panic because you wake up in a cold sweat quickly realizing that you were only experiencing a bad dream. In truth, you work for Forward Thinking, Inc.. Like the name implies, Forward Thinking is a very forward thinking company and has developed an effective Succession Plan. Several years ago, Forward Thinking realized the value in having such a plan because:

1.    Management realized that survival of the organization depends on having the right people in the right places at the right times to do the right things and get the right results.

2.   Management understood that, in a downsizing period, great care must be taken to identify promising candidates early and actively cultivate their development and retention.

3.   Management realized that in the absence of a formal succession plan, job incumbents tend to identify and groom successors who are remarkably like themselves in appearance, background and values. Formal succession plans promote more opportunity for diversity which makes the company stronger.

     And as baby-boomers continue to retire en masse from executive suites, managerial offices, and specialized or technical jobs, the question of who will take their places becomes ever more pressing. This loss of valuable institutional memory has made it apparent that organizations can’t afford to be without a strong succession program. According to William J. Rothwell in his book, “Effective Succession Planning – Ensuring Leadership Continuity and Building Talent from Within,” the biggest benefits that organizations experience from formal succession planning programs are:

1.   It will take less time and expense to fill vacancies because the talent has already been identified and prepared.

2.  People development efforts have been aligned with the organization’s strategic objectives so that the right people will be available at the right times and in the right places to meet the right objectives.

3.  The organization is prepared to deal with sudden, catastrophic losses of key people.

Back to ideal world of Forward Thinking, Inc., you feel far more at ease about departing from the company fully knowing that your position has been turned over to a very capable, trained and developed individual who will keep the company headed in the right direction. Part of your legacy is that you were a key contributor in the development program of your successor, and the legacy of your outstanding service to Forward Thinking remains intact!
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Jim Guttmann, SPHR

As a Landrum Professional Human Resources Manager, Jim is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and has over 20 years of HR generalist experience for a large government contractor and Fortune 500 Company. He holds a Masters in Business Administration from Florida State University and is an active member of the Greater Pensacola Chapter of the Society for Human Resources Management (GPCSHRM), previously serving as their Vice President of Information Services and Chairman of the Workplace Diversity Committee. Jim is also certified as a County Mediator and in the administration of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).



It’s Better to Be Safe than Sorry

July 13, 2011

It’s Better to Be Safe than Sorry
By Jim Guttmann, SPHR

Unless you’ve been living in another country (or perhaps on another planet), you would know that the subject of immigration reform is a hot and evolving topic in the United States. For employers, the Department of Homeland Security is very serious about making sure that companies don’t hire individuals who are ineligible to work here. In fact, The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office has announced their intent to ramp up audits of employers this year by establishing an “Employment Compliance Inspection Center.” This new center will add up to 20 forensic auditors to review the completion of I-9 forms by employers. If they should find undocumented workers (or just I-9 forms that have been improperly completed), employers can be subject to significant fines and even run the risk of having their doors shut. On this issue, it is better for employers to be safe than sorry. Click here for additional information about the Department of Homeland Security’s Enforcement Actions:

Now various states are getting into the act by becoming more directly involved in the I-9 verification process. There is a significant movement in many states throughout the country (including Florida) to use the “E-Verify” program. E-Verify is an Internet-based system that compares information from an employee’s Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, to data from U.S Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration records to confirm employment eligibility. By using E-Verify to determine the employment eligibility of their employees, companies become part of the solution in addressing the problem of undocumented workers. At the present time, there are a total of 17 states that require the use of E-Verify in some manner.

In June of 2004, Landrum elected to voluntarily participate in the pilot program for E-Verify. Being fully engaged in the process for seven years now, one could say that Landrum has been on the right side of history on this issue. E-Verify has proven to be a very effective process (e.g. in determining if there are problems with individuals here on work visas or finding that there is a discrepancy with a person’s social security records). However, for this process to work as it should, the I-9 form must be properly completed at time of hire and immediately run through E-Verify (no later than the first 3 days of the individual’s employment). Taking this process seriously and doing it the right way gives our clients some peace of mind during these challenging times.

As new legislation continues to occur on the immigration reform issue in the months and years ahead, you can be assured that Landrum will keep you fully abreast on these matters. And by being proactive in this matter of compliance with the law, Landrum strongly believes that our clients feel like we do – It’s Better to Be Safe than Sorry!
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Jim Guttmann, SPHR

As a Landrum Professional Human Resources Manager, Jim is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and has over 20 years of HR generalist experience for a large government contractor and Fortune 500 Company. He holds a Masters in Business Administration from Florida State University and is an active member of the Greater Pensacola Chapter of the Society for Human Resources Management (GPCSHRM), previously serving as their Vice President of Information Services and Chairman of the Workplace Diversity Committee. Jim is also certified as a County Mediator and in the administration of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).



Use a Forklift Next Time!
July 1, 2011, 3:08 pm
Filed under: Human Resources, Notes from Jim | Tags: ,

July 1, 2011

Use a Forklift Next Time!
By Jim Guttmann, SPHR

Just over 10 years ago, an injury occurred to a facilities maintenance employee at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. This was during a time that I was working for a federal contractor there as an HR Manager. The injured employee had slipped and fallen in the process of pulling up a sign. When filling out the injury report, the form naturally called for a “corrective action” to indicate how the injury could have been prevented. The manager completing the initial report wrote that the employee should use a forklift next time to assist in uprooting the sign (rather than running the risk of injuring himself by over-straining when pulling it up).

However, as an HR Manager responsible for reviewing the circumstances surrounding this claim, I did a quick follow-up with the employee. The employee immediately explained that the sign in question was one of those little two prong metal signs that you stick in the grass. You know, like the ones that politicians often place all over the neighborhood before elections.

Upon hearing this (and having a good chuckle), it was obvious to me that the manager had not even bothered to speak to his injured employee. If you imagine using a forklift to uproot a little metal sign, you have to admit – that’s pretty comical! The reason that I am re-visiting this amusing account from over a decade ago is to ask you a question. Why would you think it is important for managers to quickly take special interest in how an injured employee is doing? Well, here’s the answer. Engaging the employee soon after an incident can prove very valuable from two standpoints – although the ultimate reason for doing so may represent two opposite ends of the spectrum from an employee relations standpoint.

1. If the employee is truly injured, your quick response and involvement shows the company cares about the well being of the employee. I believe that good employers would want their employees to feel that way – and not that their employer is mad at the employee for having an injury. If it is a serious injury, you want to maintain a good relationship so as to get the employee back to work as soon as possible. It’s been found that the sooner that you can get the injured employee back to work, the less your exposure on the workers compensation claim will be in the long run. And the less likely they will sue the company over being injured at work.

Also, you can engage the employee in properly determining why the injury happened in the first place (while it is still fresh in his or her mind) so that it is not repeated by the employee or his or her co-workers. Injured workers can be very helpful in that regard and they don’t want others to go through the same experience that they did. Participating in an after-the-fact analysis of what lead up to the injury makes the employee feel a little better too – since at least something good is coming out of the unfortunate incident.

2. If the employee is faking the injury or initially represents that the injury is more serious than it really is, your personal involvement will often cause the employee to “get well” very quickly. In fact, as the manager, be interested enough to ask the employee to show you the “boo-boo” or where it hurts. In instances where there is some “tomfoolery” going on, the employee probably won’t want to risk his or her job by being suspected of fraud. As this plays out, you still come over as the compassionate employer while the employee quickly realizes that he is not going to be able to “lay-out” on this one! If you don’t take an interest in finding out what’s really happening, the employee could unfairly take advantage of the company.

In summary, when looking to control workers comp claims cost and maintain good employee relations, managers can play a key role in this effort by quickly engaging the injured employee as soon as possible after an incident occurs. After all, all accidents are preventable and your role as manager is to help in this effort whether a forklift is needed or not!

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Jim Guttmann, SPHR

As a Landrum Professional Human Resources Manager, Jim is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and has over 20 years of HR generalist experience for a large government contractor and Fortune 500 Company. He holds a Masters in Business Administration from Florida State University and is an active member of the Greater Pensacola Chapter of the Society for Human Resources Management (GPCSHRM), previously serving as their Vice President of Information Services and Chairman of the Workplace Diversity Committee. Jim is also certified as a County Mediator and in the administration of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).




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