Navigating the Complexities of Increased Union Organizing  

Recent unionization trends in Colorado are signaling a shift in our state’s labor landscape. In the past 18 months alone, we have seen employees at the Denver Art Museum, Casa Bonita, Fox31/KWGN, Meow Wolf, Denver Urban Gardens, Alamo Drafthouse and Urban Peak all take steps to form unions.  

Some of this increase in union organizing is driven by generational influences. Gen Z and millennials are more likely to approve of unions than previous generations. And the reasons for supporting unions are more focused on economic security than work conditions. Employees of Denver Urban Gardens voted to form a union despite saying they were largely satisfied with both their pay and work conditions. They said they just wanted to protect what they already have. 

This trend toward unionization can create significant challenges for Colorado employers. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has clear rules for what you can and cannot communicate to employees who are attempting to form a union, and violating those rules can have painful consequences.  

There are some communications and operational steps that employers can consider to potentially minimize employees’ interest in unionizing. These include: 

  1. Enhance employee engagement: Foster an inclusive culture that values employee input and recognizes their contributions.  
  1. Address technological concerns: Implement training programs to help employees adapt to technological changes.  
  1. Promote fair compensation: Ensure competitive, living wages and benefits like workplace flexibility. Encourage employees to take advantage of existing benefits.  
  1. Establish transparent communication: Maintain open dialogues about organizational changes.  
  1. Proactively maintain labor relations: Collaborate with employees to understand and address concerns before they escalate to unionization.  
  1. Prioritize health and safety: Provide a safe place to work and minimize risks to employees.  

We will be watching for several developments this year that could influence the rate of unionization attempts. These include state and federal legislation, election outcomes, economic conditions and U.S. Supreme Court decisions. 

If you have questions or need strategic counsel on how to address the potential of unionization attempts at your company or organization, contact Jeremy Story in our Crisis & Issues Management practice. We have significant experience helping clients navigate this delicate environment.