Union Busting: A multi-million dollar industry to take away your rights
Over 60 million workers would join a union today if given the chance. However, despite their overwhelming will, most of those workers will not get the chance to vote for a union, even fewer will be successful in forming a union, and fewer still will be successful in earning a first contract. The propensity for workers to improve their workplace through organizing for better wages and benefits has created a shadow industry that charitably calls itself "union avoidance," but is more accurately referred to as union busting.
Here are some typically Union Bluffs we are expecting to hear from the industry to prepare you:
“You will lose your job.”
Unbelievably, some employers go as far as to park empty moving vans near the job site just before the election — to give workers the idea that the company will leave if the union goes through. Companies also frequently hint at taking action against those who support the union.
Shutting down operations to avoid a union is against the law. Plus, it doesn't make sense, as it would lead to financial losses. It's also illegal to punish workers for supporting a union. Employers don't make these threats directly because they know it's unlawful to do so. The I.E.A.U. will defend the rights of any worker who is punished for union activity.
“We won’t ever sign a union contract even if you vote for I.E.A.U.”
Here’s management starting to show their cards: They’re mad, and they simply don’t want to deal with a union. (It has nothing to do with their “worrying” a union will be bad for workers.)
It's illegal for them to say they won't agree to a contract. So what you'll probably hear is something more like, "Remember, we don't have to agree to what you want in your union contract." Your employer might also circulate news clips about other groups of workers who voted for a union and didn't immediately get a contract. But they are obligated to negotiate in good faith — and it's in their interest to do so, to keep employees satisfied so that work keeps flowing. And think about this: If they don't have to agree to any union contract... then why are they fighting so hard against a union, anyway?
“When you sign a card for I.E.A.U., you sign your life away. They’ll control everything about your job.”
Management often tries to convince workers that they’ll start getting orders from “union bosses”; that union officials will control job assignments and working conditions, and that workers will lose the ability to talk directly to management.
Union decisions at I.E.A.U. are made democratically — by members, not "bosses." With representation, you will have a fair system for promotions and job assignments rather than one that's subject to arbitrary management decisions or favoritism. Finally, a I.E.A.U. steward, who will be one of your coworkers, can help you talk to management if you need or want them to, but it's by no means required.
“The union is only interested in your money — and you can’t afford union dues.”
Employers do things like distributing “documents” or news clippings that are supposed to show that the union needs your money to survive or make remark postings on social media. They might also pass out phony checks with union dues “taken out” and bring in a bag of groceries with the label, “What you could buy with one year’s union dues.”
The I.E.A.U. financial condition is detailed in reports available for inspection by every member. Management says these things because every time we add a unit, it puts new and greater pressure on employers to improve pay and working conditions. With things the way they are today, you can't afford not to have a union. The improvements in pay and benefits that come with I.E.A.U. union membership more than offset the dues members pay—plus, members are treated better. Finally, no one pays dues until they've voted to approve a first contract.
Having a union will ruin our ‘family’ work environment. Please give us another chance.”
Your employer might warn that with a union, there will be new rules and less flexibility. They might also play on workers’ emotions, making you think just talk about a union has made them realize there are problems and they should treat you better or institute “open-door” policies. They might even say they’ll do things similar to what unions do, like institute grievance procedures.
Employers often over-estimate how much employees like their work environment. After all, you’re trying to change it. With a union, new rules are up to you. When you negotiate a contract, you can agree to as much flexibility in scheduling — or other working conditions — as you want. But when workers fall for employers’ promises and pleas for “another chance,” they end up finding out the hard way that most companies forget their promises soon after workers decide against a union.
Other Union busting Tactics:
- Employers frequently try to play on the emotions of workers who are talking about organizing — either to make them feel bad about it or to scare them out of it.
- Unionization is risky because negotiations often result in workers getting less pay and benefits than they had before. This is a FALSE statement.
- It was important to have unions back in the early 20th century, when things were really bad, but not anymore. Not the the I.E.A.U., are issues have not been fought for...yet.
- Employers usually order supervisors to take the lead in campaigns against unions, often because their employers have pressured the first-line supervisors to do all they can to eliminate any talk of unions. Such as with Julie Anne, Mark Quazer, otherwise why would they even care?
- Just before workers are scheduled to vote on the union, union-busting consultants often urge employers to hold a special event or go on the attack because it will be too late for union supporters to respond. These can include a captive-audience meeting with a company executive who flies in from out of town, an unfounded charge about the union, or anything else designed to place doubts in workers’ minds about the union.
- Management doesn’t tell you they’re worried having a union will mean having to treat workers better; instead, they say they’re worried about “what will happen to you.”
- “Vote No” or “No Union” committees spring up. The material they circulate presents the employer’s perspective, even though it generally has a “homemade” appearance so it won’t look like the employer is paying for it (which is against the law). Frequently, members of anti-union committees are recruited from among workers who are friends or relatives of someone in management, are politically opposed to unions, or had a bad experience with some other union. Oftentimes, workers who lead an anti-union effort get rewarded (and sometimes are even promised) with promotions.
- The Wait and See argument is very common, often when workers try to form a union, management will make some improvement to convince people that we don’t need to join together into a union. And when the union talk dies down, management eventually goes back to their old ways. Without a written legally binding contract, any improvements can be taken away.
- Management only takes our concerns seriously when we talk about forming a union. If they want to bribe us now to keep out a union, can you imagine what we could win with a union?