Home Depot needs unions, the Employee Free Choice Act and a labor relations firm

I took a look at the RSS feed which I got from the US Chamber Of Congress, this one searches the term "employee free choice" when it's posted on blogs, while the organization is vehemently against The Employee Free Choice Act they have given me a great RSS feed. Thanks US Chamber Of Commerce.

So one of the latest blog entries which used the term was by one of a a pair of labor management experts who run a blog about many issues at hand, The Contended Cows Blog, it's actually a great read. When checking their actual web page, The Contended Cow, I read that they are in the employee relations business, and their aim is to create a great workplace for employees to make better returns for the company. Well I certainly can agree with that, they have a ton of info, and while they might not be favorable to unions, I really don't see much against them.

But, I was a bit taken aback by the same old rhetoric used against the Employee Free Choice Act which I see on less scrupulous sites, the misinformation which is being perpetrated by many union avoidance firms around the net which state that the Bill will "take away secret-ballot" elections for workers wishing to join a union. That's just not true, I really wish they didn't play into that BS. At a quick glance of their site, it really seems that they sincerely want to create good jobs for workers, have good workers for the employers and have a means to retain those employees.

So I read through the article, which was written by Bill Catlette, I would guess is 1/2 of the Contended Cows, and while some of it isn't exactly clear in the message in which the author is trying to convey, the part that Bill made clear is that he is opposed to the Employee Free Choice Act and unfortunately in his explaining that he used the "scripted" untruths about the bill, I'm saddened as this looks like a blog I would really like to hang around, so here's what he said in the article entitled "Employee Free Choice Act isn’t Free, Fair, or Necessary":
The proposed legislation would overturn a 43 year old system in which union representation elections are conducted via a federally overseen secret ballot process, and replace it with a less formal “card check” procedure where the rules are enforced not by an unbiased federal representative, but a decidedly partisan union organizer. In essence, it is designed to do one thing and one thing only - to make it easier for labor unions to shore up their shrinking membership rolls, ‘er bank accounts.
And continues...
As one who for thirty years has been more than a casual student of employee relations, I can attest with some certainty that there is nothing about this bill that is good for American business or its employees. Moreover, as with many of the other labels (e.g., conservative, liberal, values voter) that seem to float unchallenged through our conversation these days, I am totally and completely perplexed by the name of this bill. How in the world can something that actually reduces freedom and eviscerates a scrupulously fair process be known as “employee free choice?”
So I had to reply, and it gave me a chance to explain why Home Depot could use a union
Let's be realistic, it would enormously benefit American employees and as far as the spin-doctored idea of "losing freedom", the Bill actually would let the workers decide if they would like a "secret ballot" election. Obviously the current system is completely in favor of the employers and is the cash cow for quite a few law firms who rely on "the fear of a unionized" work force to make a living. The true difference is that those union avoidance law firms would need to find new areas to make themselves needed. As far as helping American companies, it sure would, imagine if we had some more people with a little disposable income, that's a huge help for businesses, maybe people could actually afford to buy more stuff, consumerism at it's best.

Plus there is a huge benefit to have a work force that has something to work for, like keeping a good union job as opposed to a the fly by night minimum wagers who couldn't care less.

Take for instance the local Home Depot, where there is no union and it has a huge "us against them" worker attitude, the last time I shopped in the store I needed a small part for a shelving system, now without delving into the "if it were a mom and pop" there would have been an employee who went into a back room and came back to me within 2 minutes with the parts needed part of my story, lets focus on what happened.

I walked into the store, around 7:00PM, noticed there was a lot of people on line, around 12 with all sorts of stuff to purchase, with only one cash register opened, that's fine, I know the policy of big box stores, if they spent all that time shopping and they have no alternatives they will wait forever if they have to, but lets continue, I went to the area that the shelves are stored and noticed that the shelving I use was in short supply, sorta like Home Depot was phasing it out, which would be a shame because I see the same shelving in stores all over the place, so I have been in this store for around 15 minutes already, locating exactly where the shelving is as they tend to move stuff around frequently, and notice that the pieces I need are not displayed with the shelving, so I look around and see a worker and I ask the fellow if he could help me and I was told immediately that it was not his section and I need to push an assistance button located every 5 racks or so and wait.

I waited, then I waited some more, having been in the store for over a 1/2 an hour I was kinda getting a little peeved, so I grabbed a young fella and asked him if the button thing actually works and he said "it's supposed to" and explained that if the customer service personnel isn't extremely busy they are to stock shelves in different departments, that sounded fine as I can understand not paying someone for nothing, but if that's the case, make sure the button system works AND make sure you have employees who are willing to do what is needed to attend to the customers needs. I of course asked him if he knew where I could find the part needed, he said that they only let him learn a few aisles and he stated that he wanted o learn some more, but it was against their policy. I asked the kid if he was in a union, he said that Home Depot had one, the managers union, and I laughed, I told him not to mention the word or he would lose his job and he told me he didn't care as they were only being payed a touch above minimum wage and were treated like garbage. He did however find the person who was supposed to be covering the area and then he came over and did not have a clue what I was asking for, he said that maybe I should go to the "hardware" section and seek assistance. Now I'm in Home Depot, a bit angry for the fact that I had already spoken to 3 employees and been in the store for about 45 minutes already, I started making my 1/4 mile trek to the hardware section.

Once in the 'hardware section" I started searching for assistance, aside from the 3 people who asked me for assistance, I wound up figuring after roaming around the 3 aisles of 'hardware' that there was no store employees at all in the section, now it's more than an hour, I decide that I'm a little more than peeved at this point and noticed a desk in the middle of the store which would likely have someone who could get me assistance in a matter of seconds with a phone call, I approached and noticed that the fellow just sitting there BS'ing on the phone, yes he was laughing away, was a part of their management team.

Surely when seeing a customer heading towards him, he would end the call ASAP, but NO, he just waved his hand up with 2 fingers pointing up and mouthed the word "2 seconds" and gave a nod of assurance that he would be right with me. I would guess that his actions are supposed to have me feel as if I'm a friend that should understand his neglect and not a cash paying customer, when I was a kid working in stores, the customer came first, but I guess like pricing merchandise that went the way of the dinosaur too.

Eventually after about 3 minutes, Mr. Manager had decided he laughed enough and hung up the phone and asked me "What do you need?", I said I needed some help finding a certain part, he stated assuredly "I know exactly what you need and where to find it". I was thrilled and said lets get it and he said that he was busy, I guess someone need to keep the seat warm at the Home Depot desk, and that would get someone to meet me in the aisle immediately. There was a call over the store PA system for someone to come to my aid so I made the trek back to "hardware".

I was thrilled, not only did the store have it, but someone was going to help me right away, it may have taken an hour and a half, but if I got the parts I needed it was worth it.

I wait, and wait, and wait some more, it's now past 8:30 and I've been in Home Depot almost 2 hours when an employee walks down the aisle, i think "here she is, I'll be out of here in a few minutes, once again I'm disappointed, she doesn't work in the section and she is on her break, BUT she goes the extra mile and knows exactly where the fellow who works the aisle is and feels really bad for what I've been going through, she tells me it's nothing new and it happens all the time, she further explains that they don't even want the employees to help the customers as that takes too much time and the management feels that the customers will help one another without the company paying for it. I feel like this corporation is really mismanaged and with it's short sided nature will eventually go out of business, but that's another story for another day.

She feels so bad in fact for my plight that she takes me to the section where the guy who knows hardware is working, hes within a football field's distance, so she takes me to the "tool section", mind you, she did this on her own time, to meet the fellow. He's on a giant ladder getting cases of merchandise to stock the shelves, he doesn't hesitate to put down the boxes and assist me, maybe he though I was a friend of the other employee, maybe he was just a person with the old idea that a customer comes first, whatever the case he finds out what i need and without a shadow of a doubt informs me that Home Depot does not carry the hardware components for that particular shelving unit. He explains to me that I should just buy another one and open it, take out the parts I need and return it.

This is what my experience at the local Home Depot was like, and I know for a fact that Home Depot is a huge lobbyist against the Employee Free Choice Act. The would rather spend 10 times the money than it would cost them if they had a conscientious unionized work staff. They could have a union that actually trains employees at the trade of being a hardware store employee, they could have a dedicated staff who really wants to learn and be a part of a corporation that could have workers who believe that there is a real reason to do a good job, to make money for a business that hires union workers, that creates jobs that have a living wage and a sense of responsibility to get the job done each working day, so that job will still be there tomorrow. The current system at Home Depot is a failure to anyone who invests in it for the long term, for their employees and for the United States of America.

One only need to look towards a company that has the right progressive ideals and has a wonderful customer service and employees who work with enthusiasm, take a walk into a COSTCO, where their open to unionization policies have just a fraction of their stores unionized. They treat their workers with respect, it shows when shopping there, the workers in the store by me do not stop unless they are on a break, they know where everything is and they smile when you speak to them. The local Brooklyn store is not unionized, and if there were more employers like COSTCO, they might not need unions in Big Box stores at all. They start their employees with a bit more than $11 an hour. They have something to work for and it shows. They don't want to lose their job. They want customers to come back.

Remember employees are your first line of offense, they can get people to come back and be dedicated consumers, when you have the us against them attitude and the false ideas that when someone who cannot afford to eat is a partner of a major corporation, it is doomed to failure. Starbucks, Home Depot are closing stores by the hundreds. Their anti-union policies and their mistreatment of their workers, along with their short-sightedness and the economic downturn are all a major factor.

Thanks for reading,
My comment is awaiting moderation over at the Cow's, I anxiously await the response by Home Depot, um, probably wont say a word, but at least their investors will read it and think.


Anonymous said...

This HD worker thinks we need a union. THats how I found the post. Many of us working at HD fell overworked, under apprecieated, and mistreated at every turn. HD can make me work past my scheduled shift, but if I fail to "cut" my hours before the end of the week I will be written up for the OT. I am actively seeking other employment, but while here I really want to see HD change. If managers truly lived up to the core values. HD would be unstopable and a great place to work. Unfortuniatly, most are under educated, overpaid, self-centered morons concerned with their bonus check. I could rant on but really, what's the point.

Anonymous said...

what the last poster said is true. I see it time and again management wants employees to do more with less and for less. I cry everday on my drive to work and my drive home about the way I am treated every day. I have seen people rewarded for not doing there job promotions, more money. If you care about your job and work hard you are treated like dirt. If you are lazy and have no ambition you will go far with this company. Lot loaders will become department heads and have no knowledge of any product at all. Sad and disgusted with Home Depot.

Anonymous said...

When I started as a cashier at THD, I was so excited to be a part of a company where I could go far, learn a lot, and be treated with respect. I was in for a rude awakening that took months to unveil!
The starting pay as a cashier at my store is $7.85 and hour, with no full time slots available. Oh well, I will get a raise like I have at every job I have ever had. I eventually found out that you CAN NOT get a raise until you have worked for THD for one year, and the absolute most you can receive is $0.25 per hour, per year. Most of my friends received $0.11 through $0.20 in 2011. I have yet to hear of anyone getting the full $0.25! So I thought I would apply to other departments, where the pay starts above $8.00 an hour. Ha. Every time another employee would quit or get fired, I applied for their job. Never got interviewed for a single position! I asked one of the managers if I could be hired on for outside garden (right before the spring). I was told that they didn't need any more help in garden. Over the next month, there were four new garden hires and four existing employees moved to garden!

"If you care about your job and work hard you are treated like dirt."

Sounds like these people work in my store!

I want to unionize, I just don't know who to talk to.

UrnkneeR said...

I know that the associates at my HD feel that we'd like the opportunity to become unionized, to end the exact issues you've discussed. How do we start the process?

Anonymous said...

I work at THD and have been for a while if you work hard you can move up I am now a manager and I started part time on the freight team. I think a union would shut THD down. I talk to my dedicated workers all the time about this they feel the same way.

Anonymous said...

I have worked at Home Depot for 3 years now and can attest that everything that has been said in this article and in the comments is 100% true. I would love to see this place go Union. Problem is they have a lot of younger people there who don't really understand Unions and what they can or are supposed to do for you. Home Depot brainwashes them that Unions are evil and only want to take your money in the form of monthly dues.

Anonymous said...

The Home Depot I work at is so short handed that they made 10 hour days (mon-fri) and 8 hours on Saturday mandatory (#8616). We were told that this might last for several months. Our hours are 6am - 4:30pm and management just announced that several people are facing warnings for punching in a minute late. ONE minute late, during a 58 hour workweek!
We get a 30-minute lunch break but they recently warned us that if we punch back in from lunch a minute early or a minute late, we would be subject to a 'write up' for that too!
The Home Depot expects a lot from its employees but feels it has to offer them nothing in return. Not even just a little respect or a cutting them a little slack during extraordinary circumstances.
Anyone who is not management (hourly employees) has to work there two years in order to get ONE week of vacation time (no vacation 1st yr. and 1 week during your 2nd yr.) this is very uncommon in today’s work force.
Perhaps it is time to force The Home Depot give a little bit back to its employees. Perhaps - it is time to Unionize!

Anonymous said...

Find a local union in your area. They will help you find a union that can accommodate your needs provided 80% of the employees agree. It is not an easy thing to do and the company will pitch a fit and make threats but they cannot legally prevent employees from unionizing. National Labor Relations Act of 1935 gives employees the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations..... Big box companies aren't fans of unions though.

Anonymous said...

HD doesn't want unions because it would force them to treat the employees like they are human beings who have rights. It would force them to give the raises they promise. It would force management to be accountable for their actions. HD commercials have the public fooled into thinking it's a great place to work. What a joke. Management morons with no eduction or common sense.

Anonymous said...

How do we get started, It's time for all of us to stop being treated like crap. We're here making mega bucks for them and they could care less. Frankly, who cares if they're fans or not, it's time for us to do something, and that something is called Union.

Anonymous said...

Well, how DO we as employees get a Union started? Who do we contact for help in this matter. I have never worked for a Union before so I am uncertain as to how to go about this. I'd be more than willing for Home Depot employees to have Union representation but I don't know where to begin. Please provide info and let's get the ball a rollin'?

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