by Bill, Think About It...

EFCA and March Madness

1 Comment 19 March 2009

Before it was even re-introduced in the U.S. Congress last week, the Employee Free Choice Act (Card Check) legislation produced howls from many in the business community over the fact that, if approved, the bill would make it decidedly (and unreasonably) easier for unions to organize workers. While it will take time to play out, some who read Washington tea leaves think they see signs that the bill’s passing may not be quite the slam dunk (pardon the March Madness) that had been expected.

That said, employers who who are firmly interested in maintaining a union-free posture would do well, regardless of the outcome, to re-visit their employee relations practices, identifying, and improving those policies and programs that annoy workers, stifle effort, and give them pause…the real stinkers. One example: Sick Days.

In recent weeks, Johnson & Johnson has run full page ads in USA Today for its Tylenol Cold medicine. The tag line of the ads is, “If you’re sick, take a sick day.” Easier said than done, especially if you work in many parts of the hospitality industry where, when you’re sick (really sick, as opposed to just wanting a day off), you either go to work, find someone to cover your shift, or call in dead. Those are effectively your options. There is no such thing as calling an individual whose job title is “manager’, reporting your illness, and going back to bed, the toilet, whatever. In other words, the organization has somehow offloaded the staffing obligation long reposited in the manager’s domain to its hourly paid worker-bees.

While we can debate the merits of affording workers paid time off for sick days, it is fundamentally stupid to tell someone that, in addition to providing timely notification of their intended absence, they are expected, while sitting on the throne with violent stomach cramps perhaps, to disturb off duty coworkers at some glorious hour in search of a replacement. Aside from being inconsistent with good employee relations, this practice is an absolute deal breaker for customers, who really resent being sneezed and wheezed on, particularly when it involves food. Come on folks!

A thought leader in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their website at



- who has written 228 posts on Contented Cows.

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  1. Bernie Dyme says:

    You have made some excellent points. First of all, the EFCA should not be as threatening as employers are expressing. As you say, treat employees well and there is no need for a union. And the best way treat them well, is by respecting them and showing that you care. Time off for sickness is an excellent example. How hard would it be to put in place a back up scheduling system so that if someone is sick, the employer finds a replacement. And boy are you correct about how sick employees are not too good for creating customer satisfaction. When I go to a hotel, R and R doesn’t mean Rest and Respiratory Infection.

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Considered thought leaders in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette and Richard Hadden speak to, train, and coach managers on leadership practices for better business outcomes.

OUR PREMISE: Having a focused, engaged, and capably led workforce is one of the best things any organization can do for its bottom line.



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