• One Health
  • Pain Management
  • Oncology
  • Geriatric & Palliative Medicine
  • Ophthalmology
  • Anatomic Pathology
  • Poultry Medicine
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Dermatology
  • Theriogenology
  • Nutrition
  • Animal Welfare
  • Radiology
  • Internal Medicine
  • Small Ruminant
  • Cardiology
  • Dentistry
  • Feline Medicine
  • Soft Tissue Surgery
  • Urology/Nephrology
  • Avian & Exotic
  • Preventive Medicine
  • Anesthesiology & Pain Management
  • Integrative & Holistic Medicine
  • Food Animals
  • Behavior
  • Zoo Medicine
  • Toxicology
  • Orthopedics
  • Emergency & Critical Care
  • Equine Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Pediatrics
  • Respiratory Medicine
  • Shelter Medicine
  • Parasitology
  • Clinical Pathology
  • Virtual Care
  • Rehabilitation
  • Epidemiology
  • Fish Medicine
  • Diabetes
  • Livestock
  • Endocrinology

Communication ranks as owner's best defense


When it comes to unionizing, hosting an open dialogue between owners and staff works to fend off most organizing situations.

When it comes to unionizing, hosting an open dialogue between owners and staff works to fend off most organizing situations.

That's according to Doug Kalish, a consultant and former human resources executive in the area of labor relations. The author of "Labor Relations 101" says veterinary medicine easily could become a "prime target" for unions. All it takes for a disgruntled staff is a little communicative ingenuity.

"It's not unusual for the same union to go looking around the country to find out if there are other similar facilities that they might attempt to organize," he says. "In the case of veterinary practices, there's often contact between different hospitals' employees, so it's not unusual for solicitation to take place."

Small hospitals aren't immune, Kalish adds.

"I've seen them go after four or five people before," he says. "It doesn't take much. It's very possible for veterinary hospitals no matter what size they are to become targets."

To guard against the spread of union talk, veterinary practices should adopt no solicitation and distribution clauses in employee handbooks. That helps stop the spread of materials during work time and in work areas.

"The practice then has grounds to take action and discipline the person doing the solicitation, so long as they don't already allow solicitation at the time," he says.

Without a solicitation clause, on-site organizing is hard to stop. It's protected by federal law.

When deflection fails

If efforts to stave off unionization crash, one-on-one talks with staff members must end as soon as a certified bargaining agent has been voted in by 51 percent of the employees. From then on, all dealings must be conducted through the union.

"You must sit down and bargain in 'good faith,' " Kalish says.

The union is protected for one year. If within that period an agreement fails to manifest, the certification is no longer valid. Staff then can vote the union out of the practice.

"It can all be very confusing, so my advice to veterinarians is don't wait," Kalish says. "Get advice from an expert who knows labor issues as soon as you hear the word 'union' floating around your practice."

Related Videos
Senior Bernese Mountain dog
© 2023 MJH Life Sciences

All rights reserved.