It’s no secret that these days unions are under attack at many levels from their political and ideological foes. Some of the more recent tactics are directly aimed at disrupting or crippling a union by using indirect methods, such as attacking their administrative functions. A prime example of this is the threatened removal of “dues check off”; the procedure whereby a union organized employer deducts dues amounts from the union employees’ payroll check and remits the amounts directly to the union in question. Members’ dues of course are the life blood of unions. Disrupting the dues check off or other collection procedures in such a fashion as to force the union to collect individual dues from every member, can seriously threaten a union’s existence. As another example, think of how the Bush-era changes in the LM-2 regulations forced you to spend time and money re-working your bookkeeping and accounting. Or, think about how changes in the right-to-work laws are profoundly affecting organized labor.
The potential for these “indirect” attacks should make every union examine their “back office” procedures (accounting, membership administration, benefits administration etc.) and think proactively about how to be prepared.
Here are three pieces of advice that we could give unions in this direction:
- Focus on what the prime mission of any union is – organizing and mobilizing your members
- Get expert assistance in the areas in which you are not an “expert.” This usually means your “back office.” Whether you have a full time, paid back office staff, or are a smaller organization with volunteers performing these tasks, make sure you have the best tools in place.
- These attacks are not going away. Plan for the future and avoid short term thinking. Maybe your opponents didn’t win this time around, but they will try again.
To achieve these objectives means investment and thinking about your union for the long term. It cannot be done “on the cheap.” Getting expert assistance does not mean your brother in law who took a week long course on programming or the guy next door who “keeps books”. It means delegating your back office functionality as much as you can to experts in the following areas:
- Accounting and Financial Control
- Membership and Dues Administration
- Benefits Administration
- Information Technology
Getting real experts in these areas will pay off hugely in the long term. This fight is going to be waged in the long term.
If you want expert advice on any of the areas above contact us for a free conversation and evaluation.