Unionization Hits U.S. Small Businesses

Unions in the United States are targeting small businesses these days, especially small service businesses.

Jeff Cornwall over at The Entrepreneurial Mind points out this growing trend in the small business market, saying:

We’ve all read the obituaries of organized labor in the U.S. But, there is one segment that has seen a growth in unionized workers: service businesses. And who is leading the way in growth in service industries? That’s right, entrepreneurs.

Jeff then quotes from an Inc. magazine article by Amy Gunderson that summarizes the issue for small businesses:

True, union membership as a whole continues to decline. But groups active in professional and service industries are booming, their ranks swelled by workers who fear increased health insurance costs and the outsourcing of jobs to Asia. IT staffers, graphic designers, and engineers — this is the new face of labor. And guess where many of them work? The average workplace organized last year had just 53 workers. “More attention is being paid to smaller workplaces,” says Bob Bruno, a labor and industrial relations professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, who adds that “organized labor has a higher success rate in small businesses.” There are several reasons for this. Labor activists have discovered that unlike large corporations, small businesses often lack the resources and the know-how to fight unionization. Plus, their employees are often more receptive to organization because union reps can make a personal, individual appeal for their support.

It used to be that if you were a small business, you didn’t have to worry much about unionization. As a small business, you could count on being under the radar screen of union attention. But now, with so many small businesses existing in the U.S., small business has a big bullseye on its back.

This has implications for service providers which support small businesses. Attorneys, PEOs (professional employer organizations), HR consultants, accountants, insurance companies that offer small company benefit programs, even professional associations that small businesses belong to — all have to be aware of this significant trend.

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Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.

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