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Working with Labor Unions? How HR Reps Can Help

By: Ryan Kidman


union concept with stamp and documents in the office

Human resources and unions have a weird relationship. In a way, HR reps have replaced the role of unions. However, in larger organizations full of workers, unionization is still quite strong. You can often notice people with union stickers as they are proud of being in these organizations.

Still, HR managers and union representatives still need to have a relationship between them and work together. As an HR, you shouldn’t look at unions as your enemy. On the contrary, you can work together and benefit from each other.

After all, it’s all about creating an environment where all employers and employees can be satisfied. That’s the only way organizations flourish and stay resilient for a long time. So, let’s start.

Create a Good Relationship with Employees and Build Trust

Working together with union members is a great opportunity to establish great relationships with a large number of employees. After all, union members take special care about their work environment, rights, and conditions.

Take the chance to listen to their issues and work on helping them directly. If you do this, your employees will start respecting you. You can use their union membership to quickly spread the word of your positive actions and improve satisfaction among the whole workforce.

It will result in improved productivity over time and better employee loyalty.

Tap Into Larger Employee Feedback Quickly

One of the advantages of working with unionized employees is that you can quickly learn what they are thinking. Every HR rep knows that you need to listen to your employees. They can often give you valuable suggestions and point out mistakes in your relationship.

With union members, a single employee can quickly give you the overall sentiment towards the organization and the work environment. You can save up a lot of time on surveying employees and talking to them individually by just speaking to a single union employee.

This direct access to employee feedback can help you establish a support channel and develop relationships with employees. When people know that their voices are being heard, they will repay you.

Showcase Honesty and Fairness

Many HR managers and business organizations overall are scared of unionized employees and often don’t want to work with them openly. Just by doing this, you will get their trust and respect. But if you work with them fairly and create equal conditions for everyone involved, you will quickly gain a reputation for being fair.

Tell them openly how things stand and what you can do for them. Finding a compromise can be difficult but putting in the effort is well worth it. When your employees know that you are honest about all the requirements and conditions, they will be motivated to do their jobs.

It will result in high retention rates and an increase in general motivation. Workers don’t like when things are hidden from them. They want to be involved with the current events and how they fit into the whole equation.

Make Regulations and Policies Clear

Since we are talking about being open and fair, one of the best ways to do this is to provide transparent regulations and policies. Things like investigations, penalties, rewards, negotiations, and termination conditions should be crystal clear.

All of your employees need to know what they can expect and what you expect from them. It’s important for all employees and especially unionized ones. They care about their right deeply and will not stand for being treated wrong.

Communicate Regularly and Effectively

Honesty, consistency, and professionalism are achieved through transparent communication. Find one unionized employee that can act as a representative for everyone. Talk to him or her regularly and establish great communication.

If you do this early on, you will be able to carry on realistic and positive negotiations. On top of that, you will develop a great relationship that will be the foundation for all future projects. Miscommunication, ego, and personal beliefs can often cause issues that are obsolete in business.

You need to have a positive environment, where talking about concerns, painful subjects, and future plans are normal.


In the end, remember that unionized employees are very proud of their status and their worker’s rights. Treat them with respect and don’t try to cut corners. With this kind of approach, you will establish a mutually-beneficial relationship and efficient operations that will reflect on the whole organization.

Published: February 3, 2021

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Ryan Kidman

Ryan Kidman is a startup-investor and serial entrepreneur. Founder of Catalyst For Business and contributor to search giants like Yahoo Finance, MSN. He is passionate about blogging and covering topics like big data, business intelligence, startups & entrepreneurship. Follow him on twitter: @ryankhgb

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