The Society for Human Resource Management’s Employment Law and Legislative Conference is in Washington this week. I couldn’t make it, so I checked in with one of my favorite bloggers, PunkRockHR’s Laurie Ruettimann, for her take on the mood at the sold-out gathering.

MARY ELLEN: SHRM is officially against “card-check.” You’re not. What’s your impression of the other attendees’ stance?

LAURIE: Many attendees are wary of card check and the extra pressure it will put on their organizations. I mentioned my personal interest around alternatives and compromises, such as Claire McCaskill’s suggestion for a secret ballot to decertify a union (right now that’s just a signature collection), but the discussion always gravitates back to the existing legislation in the Senate. There’s a real fear that Employee Free Choice Act will pass in its current form. I’m a little disheartened that HR professionals are lobbying against EFCA instead of offering thoughtful alternatives. I believe there’s a solution that will keep the integrity of the secret ballot but level the playing field for workers.

What is the biggest worry on HR’s mind right now, judging from the mood at the conference?

The biggest worry seems to be regulatory. With the rise of the Internet in Obama’s administration and the speed in which the legislation is passed, HR professionals feel pressure to keep compliant with new rules and regulations. One woman asked, “How will we know if we’re compliant? What if we’re unaware of the changes?”

What should they be worrying about that they aren’t?

I think SHRM members should be worried about the future of HR. Companies will always need someone to push paperwork and ensure organizational compliance; however, if President Barack Obama sets the tone for good government and good legislation, companies will look to HR to lead through the changes and offer solid legal and strategic expertise. Are we ready? Are we out there, learning about the law and becoming literate on the issues? Or are we waiting for the next lunch & learn training from our legal department on FMLA and changes to COBRA? Passive HR practices will doom our profession.

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2 Responses to “The Punk Rock take on SHRM”

  1. karen m says:

    Great Post, Great comments, and nothing much left to be said!

    EFCA obviously will not pass as it is, but it is definitely needed. For there to be such a vehement and massive boycott, it only leaves rise to reason the Actual Need for protection for the American Employee..

    Today, as the EFCA is written the balance may be too much for the employee/union and of course government.. so, yeah, it obviously still needs a bit of adjustment!

    It is time that we bring back fairness to the worker and of course to help bring back the purchasing power to the economy

    My only question, when did it become a privilege to work for a company instead of the company being privileged to having the employee help them grow?

  2. RMSJr says:

    While adamantly & absolutely opposed to the EFCA in any form, I have offered a reasonable revision that levels the playing field a bit, (instead of letting it completely topple over on to the 87% of union free American workers).

    All card check campaigns must be pre-registered with the NLRB and last for only 30 days after the employer is notified.

    Additional improvements include:
    * Card checks must include an automatic expiration date. Who is to say that the cards turned in are all from current employees? The EFCA revision to the EFCA bypasses the Excelsior list.
    * I have more, but enough said. FMI visit http://mainehrcafe.com/2009/02/22/my-efca-respons

    Beyond this one doom & gloom interest, I too remain committed to advancing our profession beyond, well beyond, the administriva.