What will my Employer do?
Most employers don’t want their employees to be in a union. Think about it: employers go from having total control to having to share power with workers who stand together. From their perspective, organized workers will cost more money and require that they follow a legally-binding contract, when before they could do it however they wanted.
Usually when employees show interest in organizing a Union, the company responds with an anti-union program. They may begin group meetings to try to scare workers out of signing authorization cards or talking to union representatives. They may also start a “nice” campaign and suddenly become interested in workplace problems and even offer “quick fix” solutions, like raises or improved benefits. Where does their new found concern come from? Their only hope is to discourage you from Union representation.
If you and your co-workers know WHAT TO EXPECT, the employer’s tactics will shine through as what they really are: desperate attempts to keep things the way they are by trying to crush the power of workers unified in the workplace.
Employers will often hire union-busting firms who specialize in scaring workers with misinformation and fear tactics. Here’s what they’ll tell your employer to do. If you anticipate these actions and talk with your co-workers about them before they happen, the employer’s power to scare workers is significantly less.
Union-busting: What’s Legal and What’s Not
Employers can legally run anti-union campaigns, but there are some things they CANNOT do (see Illegal Employer Behaviors). If your employer takes part in these activities, the union can file an Unfair Labor Practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board.
Most employers rely on union-busting consultants to run a campaign to convince you not to form a union. These consultants have a standard “playbook” of tactics they pull out and run time and again. These include:
LETTERS, LETTERS AND MORE LETTERS: The “Union Busters” will write lots of letters during the campaign. Only, they will be signed not by the “Union busters,” but by the company president, facility/company administrators and some well-liked managers and supervisors.
LOVE LETTERS: Some letters will say how much the management/administration really appreciates the work employees have done for the facility/company. Some might even admit past mistakes.
THE UGLY UNION LETTERS: Most of the letters will paint an ugly picture of the Union. They want you to think the Union has a lot to hide. They will never give the Union credit for anything it has achieved at other facilities.
SUPERVISOR PRESSURE: The “Union busters” will use supervisors as the front line troops against the Union — delivering letters, informal chats and even speeches prepared by the “Union busters.”
LOVE OFFERINGS: The “Union busters” will tell management to hand out larger than expected wage increases and/or improved benefits. They might even restore lost health insurance benefits, wages, differentials, etc. They might establish or revise employee participation committees. They want to show you that you don’t need a Union to get things done. The point is to convince you that the boss is really a good guy who can be trusted in the future.
A HELPING HAND: The “Union busters” will tell the facility to start correcting problems: Big things and nagging little things will now be fixed. Management will solicit and settle grievances.
LET’S BE PALS: Administrators/Supervisors will be everywhere, walking the floors day and night, setting up spur-of-the-moment meetings so that they can fix what’s on your mind. You might even be invited to lunch!
ONE-ON-ONES: The “Union busters” will have supervisors call employees in for face-to-face discussions about the Union. The supervisors will have been told exactly what to say by the “Union busters.”
MANDATORY MEETINGS: Employees will be required – on paid time while your normal work is piling up – to attend meetings where the administrators/Managers will deliver a speech prepared by the “Union busters.” These meetings will not be intended to be a free and open debate.
DIVIDE AND CONQUER: The “Union busters” will try to play one group of employees against another – “disloyal” Union supporters against “loyal pro-company” Union opponents. One department against another, men versus women, etc.
“VOTE NO” COMMITTEE: A committee of concerned employees might be set up to “stand up for” the facility and “against the bullying” tactics of the Union. The committee members will want to save the facility/company from the Union and give management another chance.
SO LONG, IT’S BEEN GOOD TO KNOW YOU: If all else fails, the administrators, personnel director or some other big management type will be forced to resign or be fired. Then, the facility will try to persuade you to give the new administrator/Manager “another chance” to make things better.
Don’t be fooled by these “Union Busting” tactics.
Having a Union at work is YOUR RIGHT!
Also, divide and govern or rule. Win by getting one’s opponents to fight among themselves. For example, Divide and conquer was once a very successful policy in sub-Saharan Africa. This expression is a translation of the Latin maxim, Divide et impera (“divide and rule”), and began to appear in English about 1600.