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FAQS

Please feel free to submit your questions to us via Contact Us. We try to answer within 48 hours. Questions that are asked several times will make it to this page.

1. Why is THE BURKE GROUP (TBG) hired during union organizing campaigns?
2. Why is The Burke Group known as the “largest” full service labor relations consulting firm in the world?
3. How do employees respond to labor relations consultants during organizing campaigns.
4. Why do union activists want to prevent The Burke Group from being hired at workplaces they are trying to organize or gain union recognition?
5. Why are employers committed to remaining free of union representation and/or recognition?
6. Is there a decrease in union representation/recognition worldwide?
7. Are unions declining in the U.S.?
8. Are unions declining in the E.U.?
9. Pro union activists have written that the decline of unions is due to consultancies such as yours. Is that true?
10. Union activists have written that labour relations consultants are “shadowy” figures working behind the scenes using “scare tactics”. Is that true?
11. Why are labor relations consultants portrayed negatively?
12. What is a ULP?
13. Does The Burke Group have a record of ULP’s?
14. Can unions be charged with ULP’s?
15. What role does the NLRB (United States) play in ULPs?
16. Do union organizing campaigns cost money?


Q: 1. Why is THE BURKE GROUP (TBG) hired during union organizing campaigns?
A: One reason is that the laws that govern the conduct of unions and management during union organizing campaigns can differ state to state within the US, province to province within Canada and country to country internationally. The Burke Group is expert in these laws. This is particularly important for clients with nationwide and/or multinational subsidiaries and/or locations.

Further to that, union organizers are often highly skilled professionally trained individuals paid to move from one target company to another to increase numbers of dues paying members for their respective unions. Company management is most often untrained and require professional assistance to guide them through understanding their region's labor laws and responding legally to union communications.


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Q: 2. Why is The Burke Group known as the “largest” full service labor relations consulting firm in the world?
A: The Burke Group has the largest compliment of full time professional consultants trained in labor relations who work “exclusively” for TBG which makes for a more professional experience for our clients and a more predictable result. Many consulting firms rely primarily on outside independent contractors or temporarily unemployed executives who come and go “as needed” depending on volume of work.

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Q: 3. How do employees respond to labor relations consultants during organizing campaigns.
A: Communication is key during organizing campaigns. Employees understand this. Employees want and deserve to hear both pro employer and pro union arguments in order to make an informed choice before voting in a union election. Union organizers are experienced at running union membership campaigns whereas employers have little if any experience on how to respond to them when this activity presents itself. Once union activity becomes apparent, employers generally seek TBG and/or legal counsel in order to be better able to respond accurately and lawfully to employees. Management must exercise a high degree of diligence when communicating with its workers so as not to risk committing any unfair labor practices or ULP’s. TBG promotes that all employees exercise their democratic right to vote in a secret ballot election to either remain union free or choose union recognition.

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Q: 4. Why do union activists want to prevent The Burke Group from being hired at workplaces they are trying to organize or gain union recognition?
A: The Burke Group is very effective at getting information to employees not generally provided by union organizers. Pro employer advocates believe employer/employee relationships are integral to positive productivity but often compromised by union intervention. By the same token, unions believe workers and economic bargaining power are at risk for improper and unfair treatment by employers if workers are not organized. Workers must learn both sides of the union question, and once that is accomplished, the democratic process allows them the freedom to choose YES or NO for union recognition via a secret ballot votes. The Burke Group encourages each and every employee to exercise that right. All employees have a right to organize. They are protected by prevailing labor laws and these rights are respected by management and consultants. However, it is important to understand that all employees do not necessarily care to choose union representation. It is unfair and undemocratic for union activists to disrespect the wishes of those employees who do not desire union recognition by attempting to paint employers who retain consultants as hostile. Both sides deserve a voice and representation during organizing campaigns.

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Q: 5. Why are employers committed to remaining free of union representation and/or recognition?
A: Employers value direct communications and relationships with their employees. By working together, they are better able to resolve production and workplace issues quickly and fairly. A union often lacks either the understanding or concern about the nuances of the company business. Additionally, research indicates that the cost of running a unionized business is 17% to 24% greater than for an equivalent non-unionized one, and this figure does not reflect negotiated changes, if there are any, in unionized employee wages or benefits. As stated by Leo Troy in his book Beyond Unions and Collective Bargaining, he says, “managerial opposition to unions is pragmatic, and motivated by competitive pressures. Management today does NOT argue that unions are innately bad, instead, they evaluate unionism as a net cost in the cost/benefit ratio, and that is why they oppose unionization."

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Q: 6. Is there a decrease in union representation/recognition worldwide?
A: Yes. There is a growing trend that employers are adopting new forms of employee representation that are better than unionized forms. This reflects changing views by employers and employees regarding the possible negative impact that unions (and their related costs) exert on jobs, industries, economies, fiscal health and human resources in the target groups unions seek to represent. Non-unionized representation builds a positive culture through two-way dialogue with employees NOTE: see article “Do unions have a future?” refer to url: http://www.tomorrowproject.net/pub/1__GLIMPSES/Employment/-281.html#A-281:1

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Q: 7. Are unions declining in the U.S.?
A: Yes. They have been in decline since the 1950’s, which predates any influence exerted by corporate management or consulting firms. Dr. Barry Hirsch of Trinity College best describes this phenomenon: “The decline of American unionism has been gradual but unrelenting. Private sector density was 24.5 % in 1973, 16.5 % in 1983, only 11.1 % by 1993, and 7.4 % in 2006. The number of private sector union members was 15 million in 1973, a level roughly maintained through the end of that decade, but which had fallen to 8 million in 2006. As private union membership fell by nearly half, nonunion private wage and salary employment more than doubled from 47 million in 1973 to 108 million in 2006." Additionally, according to Bruce Bartlett, Senior Fellow National Center for Policy Analysis Feb. 1998, “The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data shows a decline in union membership as almost continuous since the early 1950’s. In one year alone, union members fell by 159,000 even as total jobs rose by 2.6 million. Between 1984 and 1997, the 30 fastest growing sectors of the economy –Including hotels, child-care, finance, retail trade and airlines -- added 26 million new jobs, but only 1 out of 20 workers in those sectors became a union member.”

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Q: 8. Are unions declining in the E.U.?
A: The decline of unionization is not unique to the U.S. Virtually every major country has experienced the same trend. For example, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) says unionization fell from 36% of the labor force in Germany in 1980 to 29% in 1994. "In Great Britain, unionization has fallen from 50% to 34%, and in France it has fallen from 18% to just 9% over the same period. The un-weighted average union membership for all OECD countries has fallen from 46% in 1980 to 40% in 1994.” http://www.ncpa.org/pd/unions/pduni/feb98a.html. Latest union density stats in UK market stands at 28.4% (2006, published 2007) “Reach of unions continues to fall” Financial Times (20Apr07) http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/7468ef4a-eedb-11db-8f38-000b5df10621.html Also see Article, “Trade Union Recognition in Britain: An Emerging Crisis for Britain’s Unions” by Gregor Gall in Economic and Industrial Democracy 2007;28;78 http://eid.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/28/1/78

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Q: 9. Pro union activists have written that the decline of unions is due to consultancies such as yours. Is that true?
A: NO. While union decline can be attributed to many things…it is true that when an employer hires TBG they have a significantly greater chance of maintaining their direct relationship with employees. This is due to the commitment of the employer, and its management team coupled with the experienced consultants who get the company’s message to employees. Unions point to the proliferation of union avoidance consulting firms specializing in preventive labor relations in the Americas and Europe as contributing to their demise. However, an employee’s opinions and free choice speak for themselves. When given a choice and a vote, employees more often than not decide against union representation and/or recognition.

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Q: 10. Union activists have written that labour relations consultants are “shadowy” figures working behind the scenes using “scare tactics”. Is that true?
A: NO. Certain authors have written many comments that are unsubstantiated poorly researched opinion rather than fact. These reports rely almost entirely on biased sources and advance hearsay into urban legend. This type of union propaganda is designed to influence opinion against employers who retain our services. It is unfortunate, inaccurate and clearly serves as it’s own scare tactic to those read it. The truth is that we are retained in an “advisory” capacity usually well after a union has been active at a workplace. Our presence is open and communications are transparent in that information and company positions are distributed in writing and delivered to employees and ultimately the union gets copies as well. TBG does not “replace” any existing company personnel but instead adds to and compliments their efforts. Like other professional consultancies such as lawyers, engineers, and accountants etc., TBG is retained for specific purposes and usually for defined periods of time. Our primary role is to teach existing management staff how to work within the bounds of the law to best educate and encourage their employees to exercise their democratic right to vote in a secret ballot election. It is a complex decision that requires a great deal of information be delivered in a compressed period of time, and time is something many employer’s lack.

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Q: 11. Why are labor relations consultants portrayed negatively?
A: Unions and activists use negative derogatory terms designed to exert influence on employees and management for union recognition without an election. One way they do this is to attack employers who retain us as “hostile” to unions. The Burke Group does not issue press releases or advertise nor do we sponsor blogs or anti union literature. We do not publish election results or disclose confidential client information to the public. With so little information available, stories are fabricated and unions refer to us as “secretive”. We work openly alongside management. The Burke Group’s reputation for professionalism and integrity is well known and that is why we are the recognized leader in the industry. Vince Beiser, a journalist with The Huffington Post, after being notified of negative false statements in his article, printed the following retraction: CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the Burke Group employs lawyers and has been fined for violating federal labor laws. In fact, it is a consultancy that does not employ lawyers. And while it has provided advice to firms conducting anti-union campaigns that were later declared by the National Labor Relations Board to have been involved unfair labor practices, the Burke Group itself has not been found to have committed such practices, nor has it been fined. We regret these errors. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/vince-beiser/legal-unionbusters_b_42065.html

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Q: 12. What is a ULP?
A: An “unfair labor practice” or ULP constitutes a violation of the applicable laws governing union organizing elections. A ULP can be filed against either a union or an employer.

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Q: 13. Does The Burke Group have a record of ULP’s?
A: NO. Contrary to union propaganda, blogs and media, we have NEVER been found in violation or fined by the NLRB (or any other international labor relations’ governance) for ULP’s or for any violation of labor laws after almost 30 years in business and over 800 elections. This is easily searched at the http://www.nlrb.gov website

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Q: 14. Can unions be charged with ULP’s?
A: YES. Unions are charged more often than employers with Unfair Labor Practices (ULP’s). According to the NLRB’s annual report for fiscal year 2005, union officials faced a disproportionately high number of allegations of wrongdoing when compared to employers. The report stated that unions faced 6,381 ULP’s of which 82% were for illegal restraint and coercion of employees as compared to the leading allegations against employers which were 53% for refusal to bargain. Some 594 charges were for illegal union discrimination against employees. The Bureau of National Affairs reports between 1998 and 2004 that allegations of violations included 2,161 against UFCW; 6,909 against Teamsters; 3,910 against SEIU; and 1912, against Steelworkers. http://www.unionfacts.com/articles/laborPractices.cfm

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Q: 15. What role does the NLRB (United States) play in ULPs?
A: First and foremost, the NLRB does NOT file ULP’s nor does the NLRB police union recognition elections. That is a fundamental misunderstanding by writers outside the labor relations industry. Unions and employers police themselves. ULP’s are “filed” by either the union against an employer or by the employer against a union but NOT by the NLRB. The role of the NLRB is to supervise the defense and prosecution of the charges and based on evidence will render a decision. Many ULP’s are withdrawn by the filing party (union or employer) or dismissed by the NLRB before ever reaching the NLRB review board.

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Q: 16. Do union organizing campaigns cost money?
A: YES. BOTH sides incur costs to communicate their positions to employees and both sides are bound by their respective jurisdictional legal governance. Employers generally come to the conclusion that the cost of continuing to work directly with their employees is worth the investment.

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