10 Things Every Manager and Supervisor Must Know if the Organization’s Employees are Represented by a Union: Part One

Are You a manager that deals with organized employees? Take this quiz and test your knowledge of labor relations.

Unions are a part of many managers’ working environment. While this article is directed more specifically at the Federal environment, most of the points covered are identical regardless of the law that governs your union recognition or whether you work in the private or public sectors.


Print this out and answer these 10 questions. While some answers may vary from sector to sector and recognition to recognition, the answers in your organization will be the same. If you can’t answer them, ask your boss, peers or Human Resources or labor lawyer.



Since a wrong answer can cost the organization time and money, you may want to pass this around among supervisors and managers above and below you and see how your answers stack up against theirs. The more senior you are, the more you should worry about how different the answers of your subordinates may be.


  1. Why do we have to deal with unions?
  2. Who decides for management what gets agreed to with the union?
  3. What management decisions create an obligation to negotiate with the union?
  4. What’s the difference between a grievance and an unfair labor practice?
  5. Who decides grievances for management and why was that person selected?
  6. Who decides Unfair Labor Practices for management and why was that person selected?
  7. What about performance standards is bargainable?
  8. How much official time should union representatives get?
  9. What kind of relationship does management want a supervisor to have with the union?
  10. When do I have to invite the union to sit in on a meeting I call with employees?


Part Two will have my answers to these questions. Stay tuned.



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About the Author

Bob Gilson is a consultant with a specialty in working with and training Federal agencies to resolve employee problems at all levels. A retired agency labor and employee relations director, Bob has authored or co-authored a number of books dealing with Federal issues and also conducts training seminars.