Dandelion Chocolate now officially has an unionised workforce. The outcome couldn’t have been closer, with a vote of, 20 to 19, in favour of the Union.
The background to the story is one of acrimony, with accusations that the company targeted layoffs against those employees who were organising the union efforts.
9 employees, considered the ringleaders of the movement, were laid off along with some others, as the company responded to a slow down in sales as a result of weaker demand during the pandemic.
The original vote in April also went against the company, with a vote of 18 to 16, but the finding was challenged by the company. We couldn’t find out the details behind the nature of the challenge, but it was left to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to sort out.
With the alacrity associated with big government, the NLRB has only just arrived at the final number, 20 to 19, in favour of unionising.
Consider, however, that 9 of those votes taken back in April are from employees who are no longer with the company. Putting on my legal hat, I’d expect that vote to stand as lawful since it was captured at that point in time. But there may be scope for the company to restart the process, under which they’re more likely to win.
Basically, it’s messy.
I noticed there was a Facebook page for the new union, and reading through the posts, it was quite touching to see that thousands of dollars were raised by existing employees, to pay the original 9 organisers who were out of work. This reminds me of a Japanese approach where sometimes a team will collectively take a pay cut, to avoid any individual getting laid off during tough economic times.
In general, I would prefer to see national laws offer sufficient protection and rights to workers. I don’t think it’s a good idea to force employees to run the unionising gauntlet, and I further don’t like the idea that individuals can be persecuted because of their choice.
In the EU or UK, membership of a Union is considered a special category of personal data under the GDPR, which means it requires a high level of protection. The alleged abuses here are exactly why that law exists.
On the other hand, I wonder about the effectiveness of some unions. The good ones work in partnership with the business and make a representation on the board for workers rights that otherwise might be neglected. But sometimes it becomes a proxy for unqualified or economically unviable ideas, that don’t serve the business in the longer term.
I hope that after all the acrimony, Dandelion Chocolate can be more open to their worker’s representatives about their finances and business plan. In turn, the workers should take a pragmatic, not idealistic approach to helping the business thrive in the future.