Removing Picket Line Security Sets a Dangerous Precedent During University StrikesNovember 1, 2023
Picket Line Security and University Worker Strikes
Picket line security is a necessary part of any university strike or labor dispute, even if striking workers aren’t happy about it. Risk management companies such as AFIMAC Global often guide executive leadership in education on how to best respond and secure their campus during a worker strike.
Unionized workforces often file formal complaints with their employer when worker strike security services are used as a response to picketing. Claims of harassment, intimidation, and invasion of privacy are regular occurrences, often used as a tactic to gain more leverage over the labor despite itself. Removing security forces gives picketers more power and control over a job site or campus, creating deeper security risks for everyone involved.
Bowing down to the pressure of a union puts both the public and the union at risk, as leaving picket lines unattended exposes all parties involved to conflict.
Picket Line Security: Commentary from Jim Rovers
“Let’s keep in mind that when striking workers are picketing, they are in a public space, and there should be no expectation of privacy,” said Jim Rovers, Senior Vice President & General Manager of AFIMAC Global. “If you remove the security on a picket line, be careful what you wish for.”
Rovers points to examples of AFIMAC’s clients that work in the university space, where leadership opted to leave picketers and the general public to their own devices and exposed students and workforces to security risks that could have been managed. Many picketing workers are quick to complain to university management about security presence, sometimes claiming issues of harassment that require further investigation.
“When something unfortunate happens during a labor dispute, you will likely have claims from the union that go the other way. They may suggest that upper management hasn’t done enough to protect picketers. It’s a double-edged sword, as leaving the public and the workforce without security is likely to result in many different injuries and incidents.”
Guidance for Employers and Executive Leadership
Jim’s suggestion to any senior leader considering removing security forces during a labor strike is to carefully consider every detail of risk that may come as a result.
“Talk through every complaint and issue that arises on the picket line and investigate them accordingly,” added Rovers. “Consider what security can offer during these times and remember that picket lines are unpredictable and conflict between students and staff is not just possible, but common. Without any sort of response or security plan in place, it paves the way for the union to explore a total lockdown of the location.”
Removing Picket Line Security: Risk Management Considerations
Employers in any space should be bracing for complaints on behalf of the public and picketing workers when security forces are utilized. While such services may not be appreciated by striking workers themselves, they are important parts of managing risk during a labor strike. Keeping the peace on picket lines is always easier said than done, and heated conflicts can arise even during the most well-behaved worker strike.
AFIMAC provides full-service solutions to any labor dispute, utilizing both traditional security guards and private investigators to help manage picket lines. These resources are imperative to ensuring that all parties play by the rules, carefully documenting incidents and gathering information on those who may pose deeper concerns to the public. Simply controlling the flow of traffic in and out of a campus is a task that should always be conducted by qualified security professionals. Without any resources in place, the risk of serious injury between picketers and vehicles is a likely possibility.
Labor Strike Solutions from AFIMAC Global
Connect with AFIMAC to explore picket line security options that are brought directly to your job site. Capable of serving both public and private entities across North America, AFIMAC labor dispute solutions address the complexities of picket lines with full-service risk management solutions. As a security company, we offer extensive risk mitigation planning services along with security resources that many clients only pay for upon deployment.
Have plans in place for the worst-case scenario and document the actions of picketers to hold them accountable for their actions while sending a message that bad behavior will not be tolerated.
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