I received an invite today from the HRPA and the Canadian HR Reporter to a seminar next week on how to avoid unions. For my IR students, the HRPA would fall into the “managerialist” or “unitarist” perspective we have studied–they believe that employers can protect employee interests, and therefore that unions are unnecessary and undesirable.
Here’s the flyer. What’s interesting is that the promotional material states matter-of-factly that every employer needs to work hard “every single day, forever, and always” to remain nonunion:
If you are union-free, you should try to stay that way. This is not a matter of magic, legal trickery or blind luck. It takes consistent and effective management practiced day-in and day-out, based on a long-term plan. The union only has to succeed once. To remain union-free, management has to succeed every single day, forever and always.
The HRPA also gives attendees “credit hours” for completing the union avoidance seminar.
Last year, I posted a video lecture of Professor James Gross from Cornell in which he argued that this type of management behavour–deliberate planning in order to discourage workers from unionizing–is “insidious” and a violation of international human rights norms.
In Canada, Roy Adams (McMaster) and others have made similar arguments, noting that the right to unionize and engage in collective bargaining are protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and recognized as fundamental human rights in all the important international human rights laws instruments. Roy asks, for example, how we would feel if instead of this seminar being about how to avoid unions and collective bargaining, it were about how to avoid treating women and men equally, or paying non-white workers the same as white workers, or about how to get away with discriminating against disabled workers?
What do you think about those arguments? Is there anything objectionable about seminars intended to educate employers on union avoidance strategies, or is this just good management?