Jim Rose
EQ Consulting Services
611 Bear Den Road
Townsend, TN  37882


Have a Union? Are you satisfied with the working relationship and effectiveness of your employees?


Is it possible to improve working relationships with employees that are unionized?

  • All organizations should always be striving to improve their working relationships with their employees whether or not they are unionized. Yes, it is frequently more difficult when a union is involved but it can be done. My experience is that the majority of the objectives of both management and the unionized employees are typically very similar. However, sometimes there are differences and both sides tend to focus on those differences rather than work on what that they have in common.
  • Similar objectives would frequently include: more business, good quality, high morale, safe working conditions, having good communication process in place, satisfied customers, teamwork and that the business is successful long range. So does it not make sense to work together to strive for improvements on the goals management and the union have in common?
  • So, how would you go about improving your working relationship with unionized employees? The first step is to see if top management is together and committed to the task. If not do not start the journey! Keep working with the top leadership group until they can agree to truly support the endeavor even if they are not optimistic that a major improvement is likely.
  • Then the very top representatives of management should meet with the very top union leaders to determine if there would be agreement with working to improve the working relationships. If not at the initial session then continue to work the topic through time. Assuming agreement, my next suggestion is to find an outside resource with experience doing this type of work that both sides could trust. Let this person facilitate developing a plan but I would hope that it included a very high level team with representatives from both side with the outside resource facilitating the process. What the plan would consist of would vary depending on the situation that exists within the organization.
  • The plan would include identifying those common goals and determine how they can work together to accomplish those rather that improving in areas where there are differences. It could also be a combination.
  • What you need to understand is that if you have a dissatisfied workforce, low morale, etc. it is costing you money! You might want to make an estimate of the potential savings. This could motivate you to make the investment required. I suggest that you make an estimate of this number and use that as a part of a discussion with your leadership team. I also suggest doing it sooner rather than later.

Are you satisfied with the working relationship with your employees?  If not what are you going to do about it?