As the U.S. economy slides employees feel the pressure on their pocketbook. So what do they do about it. They cut corners, they reduce the “extra” spending. But eventually they start looking for more money. One way of doing that is looking for a different job, though that may be problematic and a bit unsettling for many. A second way for getting more money is to try to get it from their current employer. They look for bigger raises or they look for “cost of living” increases. Ann Bares, in Compensation Force warns against this with the statement “Experts warn (and I would second this warning) of the pitfalls associated with simply increasing base pay (in the form of a “cost of living” increase) to address these rising costs. What happens if gas prices continue to increase indefinitely, and you’ve set a precedent for covering the cost? And why increase pay to address fuel costs but not rising healthcare expenses? Again, potentially dangerous and slippery territory to step into.” She offers some alternatives to COLAs so read her article.
Another way employees may try to get more money is to seek third party representation. And unions are selling it. Rising prices, job cuts, fear and a union friendly Congress are all leading to what may be an uptick in union activity. Atlanta, Georgia (where I work) has not exactly been a hotbed of union activity in the past. But union radio ads have been on the rise, and just last week in one day I saw two union picket lines where wages seemed to be the issue.
So beware! Be on your guard. Pay attention to signs of union activity in your workplace. Unless of course you want a union. I believe that as the economy worsens this activity will increase. And if we end up with a Democrat administration we will likely see union friendly legislation passed (See my previous post on the Employee Free Choice Act and Kris Dunn’s post When “The Sopranos” Force an Employee To Sign a Union Card…) which will facilitate union organization. Clean up your “house”, train your supervisors, put them on guard about accepting any union cards, otherwise you will get something you don’t want. There is a big cost associated with unions (look at the auto companies.. are they doing well right now?) and in tough economic times do you want any more costs to handle?