Making unions partners in change

A little respect can go a long way in making unions a powerful ally
By Blaine Donais
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 08/09/2007

Change is inevitable. But it often causes a great deal of anxiety for all involved. In order for organizational change to be successful in a unionized environment, management and unions need to work together.

Employees, and the unions that represent their rights, are generally suspicious of the source of change and the motivations for it. Privatization and globalization have led many companies to downsize and reorganize to compete and maximize profits. Often this has been done at the expense of employees. Even less fundamental changes are viewed with cynicism because they often take on a “flavour-of-the-month” quality.

Organizational changes can have a significant impact on employees. Workers are often required to alter the nature and methodology of their work, or even relocate. This has an unsettling effect on employees and they are certain to complain to their union representatives. Unions will in turn articulate this frustration to the employer. And this leads to a general sentiment that unions are against change in the workplace.