Recently we supported a client with a complicated set of issues at the bargaining table. As is the case with most expiring collective agreements, I was called upon to work with management in developing a contingency plan in the event of a strike. A threat risk assessment of all sites with recommendations, costs, and timelines was provided to manage picket lines.
Part of our overall plan was to look at corporate events leading up to the strike deadline, as well as a review of the risks to executives, families and board members. We have started to see a trend where unions have become more creative with campaigns during bargaining. The goal of the union is to create awareness and apply pressure on the management team. In this particular case, the union began to target corporate events. Sending protesters to leaflet locations where management was planning to attend. In addition to the typical social media campaign, the union also began to post the names and addresses of key firms on Twitter.
Social media monitoring is not only a valuable tool in protecting your brand; it can also identify risks and gather intelligence. With the information from Twitter, we were able to mobilize teams to the individuals impacted. The lesson learned is the union has a new powerful tool that they can use to communicate and mobilize protesters quickly.
The ability to gather social media information may also form part of your argument for a court injunction. Harvesting and storing the information in a format that can be easily accessed and used at a later date should be reviewed. Millennials entering the workforce are less likely to march and stand around burning barrels with picket signs. The new form of protest will most likely play out on the web.
Ensuring you have risk mitigation strategies in place to deal with picket lines as well as how the union will use social media to mobilize its members will be important. For those environments where unionized members are part of your I.T. department, you should consider hardening security and potentially engaging third party support to monitor and conduct penetration testing. We have been called upon by a number of municipalities that have faced I.T. related concerns with unionized I.T. personnel being able to access a host of sensitive information.
The face of labour disputes is ever evolving.