This year, at the 2019 SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition will be offering dozens of opportunities to increase subject matter knowledge, best practices and improve soft skill development. David Ritoff of Modern Management will be presenting twice covering two such areas of development. His mega session will be on public speaking- “Speak Up: Turning Your Greatest Fear into Your Greatest Asset”, but David and I chatted much more about his other session, “Coming Soon to a Community Near You: Worker Centers.” David’s experience in union fighting work is extensive, and he leverages it in the new context of the worker center.
The focus of the session surrounds Alt Union considerations. The union organization efforts are varied by attempting to infiltrate organizations through new doors. One such door is Worker Centers. Ritoff explained that these centers focus on serving the underserved, often providing support to open bank accounts, handle basic paperwork requirements and navigate government programs. These individuals may struggle with a command of the English language, both written and verbal. The Worker Center looks to support a geographic area where many of these individuals reside.
What has begun to happen, according to Ritoff, is that these centers have been approached by some unions to help organize. When some individuals they work with expressed frustration about work pay or safety, the worker centers engaged with business owners on behalf of their clients. The centers began making demands for change, a position in keeping with union characteristics. Those unions jumped on the chance to partner.
David warns that these efforts can be a back door to unionization. And these concerns are not just for high population urban areas, but in some cases more so, about concentrated rural areas of agricultural workers. Unions are eager to help fund these worker centers as it gives them an opportunity to recruit new members and move towards unionization of those companies.
This session, being held on Wednesday, June 26 at 11:30 a.m., will offer true accounts of worker center direct involvement with employers. It will, also, offer the latest National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) response (or lack thereof) to this pathway for unions. There will be much to discuss and as David says, “Don’t think an alternative union can’t happen to you!”