How to Prevent a Strike

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Small group of young businesswomen
Small group of young businesswomen (Image: Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images)

Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act protects the rights of most union and non-union employees to go on strike. Since it also prevents business owners and managers from interfering with this right, proactive measures are vital to ensure that a walk-out never occurs. For this reason, businesses of all sizes and in any industry should follow strike prevention best practices designed to keep employees content.

Implement a Labor-Management Relations Program

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a labor-management relations program is a good starting point for an effective strike prevention program. Labor-management relations refers not only to complying with federal and state employment laws, but also to providing a platform for employees to air and discuss their grievances -- as well as procedures for addressing and resolving grievances. For all businesses, an open door policy, written complaint procedures and timely investigations of any complaints are essential components. For a business with union employees, this also includes contract negotiation, collective bargaining, mediation and arbitration procedures.

Remove Communications Barriers

Although a more hierarchical organizational structure often becomes necessary as a business grows larger, a formal structure and one-way communications can increase employee discontent. In a 2013 interview conducted by Tracey Schelmetic for ThomasNet.com, United Auto Workers President Bob King recommended adopting a business model that views and treats employees as vital human capital assets. For many businesses, an organizational structure characterized by shared responsibilities, two-way communications between employees and managers and an environment that encourages employees to make some of their own decisions is effective in preventing a strike.

Design an Employee-Oriented Company Culture

A company culture that inspires and unites your employees provides benefits that go beyond preventing the threat of a strike. A strong company culture increases cooperation, collaboration and motivation, which in turn improve communications and decision-making and facilitate more effective problem solving. For many employers, a company culture that focuses on health and safety, recognizes the contributions employees make to the business’s overall success and provides for transparency in all aspects of management can significantly reduce the chance that employees will decide to strike.

Encourage Initiative

In general, employees who feel they have both a say and a stake in creating a successful business will be less likely to strike. In many businesses, micromanagement increases the level of worker discontent, while autonomy most often increases job satisfaction. Although some employees work only for a paycheck, many work for more than money. Giving workers the freedom to make day-to-day decisions will help them feel more in control. This can go a long way toward increasing employee satisfaction and decreasing the likelihood of a strike.

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