Hershey’s won an important vote against unionizing at their second largest manufacturing plant, against a backdrop of a revitalised union movement in the U.S.
The vote count was live streamed by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) who were no doubt disappointed by the outcome. Certainly some workers were not happy with the way the company has treated them. Some mentioned that they were required to work seven days in a row (although presumably paid), and had similar grievances with the time-off procedure.
Nevertheless, in a company with 14,000 employees, these seem minor issues compared to other businesses that are facing similar unionizing movements. Workers at Starbucks have been dealing with an abusive working environment, management spying, and some dubious store closures, due to management’s efforts to discourage unionization.
Hershey’s was perhaps more thoughtful than others in their approach, setting up a website that explained the benefits of independence, and citing examples.
However, despite some of the controversial business dealings through their supply chain, the company has been largely successful in positioning itself as a company that cares for its employees. Perhaps these last five years of building a message for fairness – at least internally – is now paying dividends.
During the pandemic we reported how Hershey’s was one of the few businesses that kept running rather than sending staff home.
CEO, Michele Buck has made equality and diversity a central focus for her tenure. In 2018, she accepted a Corporate Citizenship Award for her work in making the business open to equal opportunity and diversity
It is an honor for me to accept the prestigious Corporate Citizenship Award on behalf of The Hershey Company and the approximately 16,000 Hershey team, members who make our company the remarkable and special company that it is.Michele Buck, CEO, Hershey Company
Other plants will likely make their own determination in the near future, but this will no doubt provide confidence to the business that their counter-union strategy has been the right one.