On January 22, 2010, the Secretary of Labor, Hilda L. Solis issued a pro-union statement in response to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (“BLS”) recent report on union membership for 2009. In its report for 2009, the BLS indicated that the unionization rate of employed wage and salaried workers was 12.3% in 2009 as compared to 12.4% in 2008. For private sector employers, the unionization rate dropped from 7.6% to 7.2%.

Commenting on the BLS data, the Secretary stated that “the data also show the median usual weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary union members were $908 per week, compared to $710 per week for workers not represented by unions. Union members earn 28% more than their non-union counterparts. When coupled with data showing that union members have access to better health care, retirement and leave benefits, the numbers make it clear that union jobs are good jobs. As workers across the country have seen their real and nominal wages decline as a result of the recession, the numbers show a need for Congress to pass legislation to level the playing field to enable more workers to access the benefits of union membership. This report makes it clear why the administration supports the Employee Free Choice Act.”

Having left no doubt where Secretary Solis stands on the value of unions, all non-union employers would be well-served to begin planning their individualized union avoidance strategy. Under the mantra of “information is power,” employers should begin gathering data about the size and type of unions operating in their area and the wages and benefits being provided by those unions. Using this information as an initial starting point, employers can develop an ongoing union avoidance strategy that considers among other things, (1) executive, manager and supervisor training, (2) an open door policy for employee complaints and suggestions and (3) increasing senior manager visibility to all employees. To be successful, a union avoidance strategy must be an ongoing strategic strategy of the company that seeks to create a culture of employee inclusion and ownership in the company’s success. Please call your Masuda Funai relationship attorney for more information.