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.