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Unions and Free Speech

Updated on December 12, 2016

Discuss the following statement: Even though efforts to restrict employees’ free speech at work may be permissible, such efforts raise troubling questions affecting individual rights.

The statement: “even though efforts to restrict employees’ free speech at work may be permissible, such efforts raise troubling questions affecting individual rights” is very true. While employers should have the right to restrict certain speech topics at work, it does raise questions about how much the employer can restrict the employees’ individual rights while in the workplace. For instance, I am an after school counselor at an elementary school and my free speech is restricted to a certain level. In my case I feel that the employer is in the right because they restrict all employees from speaking about anything not appropriate or overly personal while at work. This policy came about because two counselors were overheard by a child speaking about how they were going to meet up at a bar over the weekend. The child then went home and told their parents that two of the counselors were going to a strip bar over the weekend; the conversation was embellished, misunderstood, or altered by the child and it caused alarm in the parents about what their child was being exposed to at the after school program.

It is my personal opinion that employers should be allowed to restrict employees’ free speech while at the work place based on the type of work environment they are in. I can also understand that employees should not be allowed to discuss certain topic outside of work due to confidentiality concerns; for example, all counselors have to sign a confidentiality form agreeing not to discuss the children they work with outside of the work environment. However I do believe that restrictions need to be carefully considered and monitored to avoid discrimination, unfair treatment, and overuse. Employers also need to take care to ensure that all employees understand the restrictions in full and that they grasp the need for such restrictions so they do not feel unfairly restricted, as such feeling could fester into resentment.

After completing the module readings, you will think about what you have read and pull upon any HR experience you may have. Then, in your own words, write one or two paragraphs responding to the following statement: If management gets a union, it deserves one. What does this statement mean to you? Title your post 7-2 Why Unions?

7-2 Why Unions?

The statement: “if management gets a union, it deserves one” can be interpreted different ways. My personal interpretation of the statement is that if an organization gets a union, it is because of the failure of management. A union is a “formal association of workers that promotes the interests of its members through collective action” (Mathis, Jackson, & Valentine, 2014, p. 632). The fact that a formal association of workers was required by the employees in order to promote the interests of the employees would be because the employees felt that management was not looking out for their interests. Employees often decide to seek out unionization because of a lack of good employee-management relations, a management that does not listen to the employees, a lack of consistency in employee treatment, a lack of employee equality, and/or poor employees working conditions. “If management gets a union, it deserves one”, is a view held by many union employees who have the belief that the management needed a union in order to force them to act in fair and consistent manner towards the employees.

I personally agree with the view that “if management gets a union, it deserves one” because of the amount of time and effort the employees have to invest in forming a union; the employees would not invest the time and effort unless they truly felt that they needed a union to protect their interests from the management. Unions are formed when a group of employees from an organizing committee adopt an issues program, sign up a majority on union cards, fill an election petition, and then win the election. The top statistical reasons that lead employees to form unions are: employees seeking a voice at work, better pay, better treatment, and better benefits from a management that is not listening to the concerns of the employees (Council 31, n.d.). All employees who are considered a part of the labor force are legally allowed to join or form a union, but many don’t because of the fee to join the union, the time required, and the effort expended. Managers and supervisors are not protected by the National Labor Relations Board and are not allowed to join a union nor may they be a part of the bargaining unit; this is because these employees are considered to be part of a company’s management rather than its labor force and they are often the people that the employees are seeking action against due to unfair treatment or a lack of communication (Repa, n.d.).

References

Mathis, R. L., Jackson, J. H., & Valentine, S. (2014). Human resource management (14th ed.).

Singapore: Cengage Learning Editores.

Council 31. (n.d.) Why form a union. Retrieved from http://www.afscme31.org/organize/why-

form-a-union

Repa, B. (n.d.). Federal Labor Laws. Retrieved from

http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/free-books/employee-rights-book/chapter15-

2.html

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