An Interestingly Odd Combination
During the last couple of months, I have been Unions where created as a way to balance the power researching support groups for people coping with the between workers and corporate owners and stresses created by our present economic crisis. I started management. Unions were originally created to my research driven by my curiosity and the need to collectively represent and negotiate for workers in order understand the impact that the current economical to achieve fair and equitable treatment in the work conditions have on individuals and the mechanisms environment. Through time and experience this people are using to cope. There were not a lot of relationship has most often proven to be contentious. surprises. People were dealing with a wide variety of Management often sees unions as unnecessary issues from unemployment, uncertainty of their future, institutions to be avoided, because union leadership can be self-serving, politically driven, focused on one side of the business equation (labor) with little or no concern for One support group that particularly caught my attention the overall performance of the enterprise. Unions are was made up of people that were employed with a often obstacles for sound business decision-making. steady income but still feeling extremely vulnerable and powerless. As I inquired more into their dynamic, I discovered that their lack of emotional wellness was strongly related to their perceived inability or fear to express their feelings and/or grievances at work. This fear seems to come from a collective assumption of negative repercussions if their concerns where expressed to their management. Many are choosing the “certainty of pain” by staying quiet, repressing their emotions and seeking help through medication, individual or group therapy, etc., versus the “pain of uncertainty” generated by the fear of loosing their job in this turbulent job market. With the election of President Obama and a predominantly Democratic Congress, it is expected that labor unions will be more influential in driving employee initiatives. The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) is a clear example of how this leverage is being used. Mostly My experience with the depression groups have given opposed by business, Republican Congress and me a sense of how fertile the ground is currently for Chambers of Commerce, EFCA has high probabilities of unions to flourish. Management is busy with the financial performance of the organization, dealing with the market challenges, attending to the economical pressures, You may ask yourself “What do depression support keeping the business afloat and, if feasible, meeting ROI groups have to do with EFCA?” Let me continue… Downsizing, cost reductions, increased workloads, During this period of economic and social unrest, it reduced hours and/or increased hours with no increase seems imperative that senior management needs to be in pay, cut bonuses, etc. are all sources of unrest. In particular attuned to employee concerns and take addition, with unemployment rates at 10%, CNN, NBC, actions to alleviate those fears and concerns. The FOX, ABC and most publications mine the crisis to the starting point is to better understand what your maximum increasing the level of fear across the board. With workers/employees feeling increasingly vulnerable, we are beginning to see the start of collective unrest— Opinion Surveys, 360° Feedback, Supervisory Training, Management and Executive Coaching, and Team Building, are safe and accessible ways for employees to EFCA provides the means to bring Unions into the express their concerns, opinions and desires. workplace easier and faster. Employees under duress, fearful and depressed may find the Union proposition With such employee-based activities as listed above, and the power of collective representation to be more senior management not only provides activities to appealing than Prozac, Celexa or Cymbalta. strengthen employee and organizational health, they also provide information about employee collective trouble During my 30 years of experience as an Organization areas. This is valuable information that senior Development consultant, I have witnessed over and over management can use to address broad areas of again that when economical downturns happen, often employee concerns. Taking management action before senior management cut their budgets in areas that are collective employee action is best both for the fundamental to the health of their employees and the health and productivity of their organization, both in

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