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Your Company's United Way Campaign = Union Avoidance

What do union avoidance, the United Way and captive meetings have in common?

Answer - a lot more than you might think.

Laurie Ruettimann has a post up at TNLT.com wondering why HR always gets stuck with the United Way drive.  Fair question.  I've always hated the big United Way drive at work.  Not because of the United Way.  Great organization.  Because of the smell of solicitation in the air, and because HR was usually in the middle of it from a planning standpoint.

Laurie does a nice job covering HR's involvement and questioning why.  I'm going to add to her post by telling you why the United Way drive is so prominent in corporate America.

Three Words: Union Avoidance and Solicitation.

Work with me here.  This is why the United Way has the opportunity they do annually in corporate United Way 2006 America.  The thought process goes something like this:

1. Employees of all kinds want to do solicitation for charities they're passionate about.  They want to do it formally through the company.

2. They approach their company with their wish to solicit donations, do membership drives, etc.

3. The company is non-union and wishes to remain that way.  Company attorneys rightfully say that if the company sponsors unlimited solicitations, then they would have to allow pro-union employees to openly solicit fellow employees to support a union.

4. No one wants that my friend.

5. But, creating a position that you can do no fund raising for charity inside the organization is a Scrooge-type of position.  So the company stakes out middle ground and says "we have a policy that we can do 2 (pick the number, but it has to be between 1 and 4) fund-raising, solicitation drives to our employee-base per year.  If they're really organized, they let the employees pick which non-profit gets the benefits of these drives.

6. The United Way is always a part of that strategy because they're an umbrella organization to countless local charities and non-profits.

7. The drive begins as scheduled, and the craziness Laurie refers to ensues.  Captive meetings, direct pressure to get to the goal, peer pressure, captive meetings only including those who haven't given, etc.

8.  Employees try to hide.

9.  The company allows it all to happen for the reasons set forth in #5 AND has a position that allows them to maximize their chances of remaining union-free, because they won't be forced to allow access to all employees if pro-union forces ask for it.

So - at the end of the day, the prominence of the United Way in corporate America employee-based fund-raising is linked to your non-solicitation policy and remaining Union-Free.

You're welcome.

Now, can I get your pledge card by Monday? The average donation seems to be $50....


David Dingee, Labor Relations Professional

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)has through case law, carved out an exception for the United Way regarding solicitation policies. If a non-solicitation policy is challenged by a labor union, any involvement in United Way drives are not considered a violation by the NLRB.


I remember being invited to participate in a Pampered Chef party via email. I told the woman, "You can't solicit for anything. Not Pampered Chef. Not for Tupperware. No girl scout cookies. Nothing."

She said, "No wonder no one likes you, Laurie. I was trying to be your friend."

Sigh. I miss being a generalist.


Whether it's a union, a used car sales man or the girl scouts- no one likes to be hunted down- for someone to try to sell them something. With all those above mentioned people & all the others out there selling something... if I want something - I know where to go to find it. Leave me alone & don't try to coerce me into what YOU think is good for ME. I can make that decision for myself- thank you.

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