Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Impact of Dual Shop Operation on Workers

One of the obvious reasons for having a union is to be able to negotiate deals with employers or management through collective bargaining agreement (CBA). In most negotiations concerning workers’ issues, the CBA has proven itself to be an effective tool. Deals done through the CBA often result in a fair and standard decision on issues and concerns.
But what happens when an employer deals with two workers’ groups?
The article, “Perils and Pitfalls of Double Breasting in Construction”, posted on September 12, 2006, deals with double breasting, or the illegal practice of hiring both union and non-union (‘open shop’) workers to do work for one company. Double breasting, also known as dual shop operation, is opposed by organized labor because they believe this practice takes away work or employment from most union members resulting in decrease union contributions.
The article takes the example of a highway construction company in Oklahoma, which applies double breasting to undertake some of its projects. According to accounts, the company has been operating for years hiring open shop workers and subcontracting other jobs to union workers. Although both groups serve a common employer and have the same office, each has separate record and accounting.
When the union asked for recognition of their negotiating rights under the CBA, the courts readily granted it to them. But they failed to stop the practice as the court held that the work of non-union employees has no conflict with the group and the company.
I think this is the danger of operating a business using double breasting or dual shop operation. This practice creates duplicity of standards and policies. And as pointed out by unions, workers are deprived of protection due to a double-standard policy.
Moreover, a business that operates under this system has always a ready option against workers who may find some grievance with the company. Termination of workers would be easy as non-union workers are always available. I believe this system stirs insecurity and discouragement among workers.
If you believe your rights have been violated because of illegal employment practices like this, you should consult with a lawyer immediately.