Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Taking the fight to the union busters

This week, In These Times published a fascinating piece on the ugly inner workings of the union busting industry. Assuming the identity of a small New York City business owner, Art Levine went undercover to an anti-union seminar held by Jackson Lewis, an infamous law firm which helps other companies bust unions.

Levine's piece gives us a good look at the early stages of union-busting: a hush-hush seminar which starts out by frightening business owners and managers about the alleged dangers of unionization, and follows up with some basic anti-union legal advice. There's no surprise there; indeed, labor law is replete with loopholes which can be exploited to thwart unionization.

What is surprising is the expense and difficulty which is imposed on the union-buster's client - i.e., the manager or business owner who wishes to avoid unionization. After all, to go to the seminar, Levine had to chip in travel expenses plus a $1,500 entrance fee, as well as two solid days of time. That amounts to a pretty serious cash outlay. What's more, participating in the seminar and doing business with Jackson Lewis don't sound like remotely pleasant activities. The seminar and follow-up free half-hour phone consultation which Levine describes both sound like fairly high-pressure ordeals meant to persuade participants to pay the firm exorbitant fees to solve what may be an imaginary problem. The Jackson Lewis attorneys sound like textbook cases of predatory salespeople.

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Anonymous said...

Union busters are scam artist themselves; just figure the company doesn’t want to pay employees more, so the money that company will save from paying union activities, those union consultant will steal the money themselves.

Anonymous said...

Union busters are scam artist themselves;they just figure that the company doesn’t want to pay employees more, so the money that the company will save from not paying for union activities, those anti-union consultant will steal the money for themselves.

Anonymous said...


In October of 2006. We found out that Richard Brown a "Union Buster" works for the firm of Constangy,Brooks & Smith,LLC in Alabama.His name came up in some anti-union propaganda at the Fontana terminal.We googled him and found a list of clients that the firm represents.And lo and behold Fedex Corp. was on the list!
Well just last night I checked up on our friend on the web.He's still there.But the list of clients has been removed!I wonder why???
Just another example of your company and the people they hire and deal with,who just want to hide behind whatever lies they want you to believe!


Anonymous said...

I think this thread has survived as long as it has because of the peoples interest in Frt/Ntl Unionizing. Maybe i should have named the thread FedEx Freight/Ntl needs Union. I think people get the picture though. The thread kind of went off on a pension tangent but this is a big part of being a Union. No I never worked for Freight but I did work for National/WMl whatever its called..for over 7 Years. What made me hunger for a Union is the Way FedEx Corp is treating WML employees and disassembling and dismantling the once mighty flying W. The whole purpose for FedEx acquiring WML was to get the Canadian lanes. I may not work for that Company anymore but it still won't stop me and my friends trying to organize FedEx Freight/Ntl.

Anonymous said...

Also pay attention to the paragraph labeled "Contraction". This is what has actually happened. Since the days of Nixon, our living standard has dropped 65%. Under Bush, 300,000 jobs in the automotive sector have disappeared, hundreds of thousand more in other sectors. How can we have any freight on our trucks if no one is producing anything in this country anymore. Bush, like one of his predecessors is nothing more than a union buster. The late Ohio Senator Robert Taft(Rep), sponsor of the Taft Hartley Act, which has been the key to the race to the bottom in wages and working conditions in this country.

Anonymous said...

FedEx freight employees need the protection of a Union. Management has gone to far. It has gotten that bad.

Anonymous said...

I agree!!! Every day they want more and more out of us But yet the last 3 raises did not cover the cost of living increase. All are hard work is for fall further behind. Sadly I hear more people talk about the union. The sad part is the people that run this company have the belief that since they are in charge the must be right and they know what their doing. The people who ran all those other compaines out of business and blamed the union for it,are now running this company and have it headed for the ditch but refuse to listen to anyone else. Hey their in charge therfore they must be right!!!

Anonymous said...

FedEx Frt And Ntl should sign cards

Both Frt and Ntl need to stand up for themselves and sign cards. Then where would the freight be directed through?
If we all got together it WOULD happen. This generation just doesnt care i guess.

Anonymous said...

It is Illegal to deny anyone the right to be represented by a Union. FedEx drivers for ground have already organized back east. It wont be long before Freight/National drivers have a decision to make. Dont believe the anti-union garbage propoganda that FedEx feeds its employees. Don't let people intimidate you. If we all stick together we will get what we deserve.

Anonymous said...

I have long been convinced (Change fedex to win)
that the reason the corporatists and Repugs want to destroy unions is because they represent the only real obstacle remaining against the Right and their corporate enablers crushing working people in this country.

Anonymous said...

It has come to my attention that James Meyer at the Whittier Service Center is talking anti Union with several drivers even calling some of them into his office questioning them about the Union. An unlawful interrogation of Union activity on what the line driver is doing outside of work in reference to the Union meetings and activity. This incident of anti Union harassment happened about 2-3 months ago. Any driver with information please contact this website so we may contact the labor board with further action on this incident.

Anonymous said...

Taking the fight to the union busters;
Could we get some sort of focus group together on this and talk about how to do create this, what we could offer, initial funding, and other bureaucratic plans? I certainly couldn't start this on my own but I have a decent amount of organizational experience as well as a research/labor background and I could do a lot of work (but not nearly all of it) for this type of firm. What do you and others think of putting together a focus group on this with other bloggers?

Anonymous said...

The term unionbusting describes the planned course of action to stop workers from organizing a union or to destroy a union already in the workplace. Unionbusters are professional consultants or lawyers that advertise their ability to manipulate the labor law system and specialize in advising employers on how to thwart union organizing drives or how to decertify unions. Unionbusters usually self-identify as ‘union avoidance firms,’ ‘management consultants,’ or ‘labor consultants.

Anonymous said...

Facts and Frequently Asked Questions about Unionbusting
What is Unionbusting? The term unionbusting describes the planned course of action to stop workers from organizing a union or to destroy a union already in the workplace.

Who are Unionbusters? Unionbusters are professional consultants or lawyers, who may represent a legal consortium or consulting firm. These individuals or firms advertise their ability to manipulate the labor law system and specialize in advising employers on how to thwart union organizing drives or how to decertify unions. Unionbusters usually self-identify as ‘union avoidance firms,’ ‘management consultants,’ or ‘labor consultants.’

What do Unionbusters Do? Unionbusters offer legal services, advice and consultation, training seminars, workshops and materials for management and supervisors, and a variety of targeted anti-union propaganda for distribution to employees, including videos, posters, leaflets, flyers and giveaways. Unionbusters’ sophisticated advice, training and materials help an employer create a sense of dissension and division among employees during an organizing campaign and spread misinformation about the union before workers vote in a union representation election. Additionally, “consultants advise management on how to stall or prolong the bargaining process, almost indefinitely—bargaining to the point of boredom…”1

Why Haven’t I Heard of These Firms? Unionbusters operate under the radar intentionally. Unionbusters often provide material and instructions behind the scenes while the employer’s management and middle-management/supervisory staff carry out the actual communications with workers. In this way, the unionbuster does not deal directly with employees and, as a result, may avoid having to disclose financial reports about such activity to the U.S. Department of Labor. The unionbuster’s name or firm is not used or referenced in the anti-union materials distributed to employees, further masking the unionbuster’s involvement in orchestrating the anti-organizing campaign. More importantly, the anti-union company is rarely called on to divulge that it hired a unionbuster or reveal the specifics of such expenditures. Therefore, without a paper trail, unionbusters are hard to detect, underreported, and not in the public eye.

Who Uses Unionbusting Firms? 75 percent of employers facing a union organizing drive hire anti-union consultants.2

How Successful are Unionbusters? It is no coincidence that as the unionbusting industry has grown, the rate of union membership has declined. A unionbuster recently profiled in FORTUNE magazine had ‘won’ 32 of 35 organizing drives in 2003 for his clients.3 Unionbusters even go so far as advertising their rates of success. One firm, Labor Relations Institute, now boasts a money-back guarantee on its website: “If your organization purchases an LRI Guaranteed Winner Package and the union becomes certified, the Labor Relations Institute will refund the full cost of the package.
Also if you want to find out if there is financial money involvement in FedEx and the union buster go to Department of!

Anonymous said...

Well speaking as a WORKER With out a UNION and having friends who are in UNIONS doing the same work as myself. I would VOTE YES for A UNION if a VOTE were to happen. I build'em you fly'em...

Anonymous said...

The way to put unionbusters out of business is to encourage Democrats to compromise with Republicans on the Employee Free Choice Act.

Congress should pass increases on penalties for violations of current law, and remove the changes to labor law to which Republicans vehemently oppose, namely requiring companies to accept the results of a majority signature card organizing drive.

Putting economic teeth for violators of Labor Law would critically wound the Union busting industry. It would be far more economical to simply negotiate fairly with employees, rather than pay for an expensive union buster, and then paying even more expensive fines when caught firing supporters of concerted action.

Most American realize the benefits of negotiating as a group. Often employees get discounts at local merchants, or on vacation packages. The right of employees to associate with each other for mutual benefit does not require that they join a union...employees can also form moral committees, employee associations, or even their own independant unions without affilation with the big unions. Yet all Americans are harmed by the unionbusters and the economic advantages of violating labor law.

Requiring the “card check” provision on the EFCA is a bridge too far. It’s time for incremental labor reform to aid all Americans who simply believe in the enforcement of the laws that helped make America great.

Anonymous said...

I have been a supporter of John Edwards since the March 2004 Primary. Edwards is not afraid to say it like it is...He knows the Pharmaceutical and Insurance Companies and their lobbyist are not interested in We the People---they are concerned with Corporate profit! Edwards understands the importance of regulation- the importance of opportunity for every person...In John Edwards America - there will be both peace anf justice...
Edwards will restore the dismantled Constitution...Edwards for Change- Edwards for America!!!

Anonymous said...

Look hiw comfortable and passionate he is talking to union members who he calls, "Brothers and Sisters." They are our brothers and sisters and he is the one to teach all of America what is owed to the labor movement. With a President John Edwards, everyone in America will be taught what is owed, what the history is of the middle class, that didn't exist before the union movement. This man is authentic! If you believe what eh says, please donate to the campaign on my page. Thanks -Mary Robinson

Anonymous said...

Not long after 21 of the 23 drivers in Northborough petitioned last fall for an election to join the Teamsters, FedEx dismissed five union supporters and six others quit, with several complaining that managers had made their lives unbearable.

"They started to harass and intimidate everybody," Mr. Williams said. "Some people they tried to starve out. Instead of giving 120 to 130 packages, they cut it to 60 or 70 to reduce the money."

Ken Flynn, a pro-union driver who was dismissed, said that after the unionization drive began, management added six managers to the three already there. The new ones, he said, spent much of their time speaking out against the union. FedEx says the new managers were assisting with the holiday rush and helping to transfer the operation to another terminal in Northborough.

To sway the drivers, FedEx prepared a 25-minute DVD that accused the Teamsters of being incompetent and violent.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post. very timely,under the current regimes dirty tricks and anti labor policies.
My father was a union organizer, local business rep and local President. He retired after 35 years with the IUOE.(Operating engineers, Heavy equipment operators).He retired as an International Rep/Grievance arbitrator.I am also a union member. As factual as that sounds, let me point out another dirty little trick business uses.Although I am a union member, The shop I work in is non union. I pay union dues so I can get health benifits. Period. The only reason the rest of the employees of this company are unionized is because we work on the docks along side the Longshoremans people.The Longshoreman union is a VERY powerful union.They will not allow non union people on the docks to work. My company found the weakest union they could, and signed a contract to make us union employees.My employer threatens to shut down the shop if we organize. I know this is financially impossible for them to do,but they would not hesitate a nanosecond in firing us for trying.Unions are responsible for multitudes of worker benifits. Safety and labor standards come to mind. The forty hour workweek is a direct benefit of the union movement.

Anonymous said...

The man behind the scenes counseling Gurrera was Alfred DeMaria, a partner at one of New York's well-known labor law firms, Clifton, Budd & DeMaria. DeMaria advised Citarella's owner throughout the worker-reinstatement battle, and, organizers say, was instrumental in keeping the store nonunion. Such aggressive anti-union campaigns are increasingly common as the labor movement pushes to organize workers, especially in the service sector. These anti-union strategists skirt the edges of legality, and DeMaria is just one example in a growing industry of professional union busters, experts in showing employers how to keep labor from organizing and still remain within the law, teaching them these tactics via a newsletter, pamphlets, a video series, and "continuing education" seminars such as the one Mother Jones sat in on this June.

At these seminars, lawyers and labor relations consultants from the nation's top union-busting law firms come to speak to rapt, intimate groups of executives, advising them on how to beat union election drives, do end runs around the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), and decertify unions, all the while hawking their own firms' services. Union members are expressly banned.

Hoping to find out for ourselves the secrets of these modern-day Pinkertons, we slipped into a seminar in Cleveland, Ohio, titled Maintaining Nonunion Status. Led by DeMaria himself, the two-day event was organized by Executive Enterprises, one of the largest, best-known, and oldest management training seminar firms in the country. The New York City-based company -- founded in the first wave of white-collar union busting during the 1970s -- holds regular workshops on topics ranging from how to deal with environmental regulation to union avoidance. They are pricey (about $500 a day), and designed to "deliver...information to high-level executives."

Anonymous said...

Alfred DeMaria's work for anti-union campaigns that spans the entire country and three decades. He is also the author of How Management Wins Union Organizing Campaigns and several other handbooks filled with union-busting tips, copies of sample anti-union fliers and leaflets, and texts of speeches shop-floor supervisors can make to discourage their workers from unionizing. On top of all that, DeMaria edits a monthly anti-union newsletter, Management Report.

Anonymous said...

Supervisors are the key to every union-busting campaign. They can be forced to participate in it, although the trick is to make them want to defeat the union. Levitt held endless meetings with the supervisors, at one point hiring his wife to talk to some of them, figuring that women would be most likely to open up to another woman. He told them that the workers' support of the union was a personal betrayal. He told them that workers whom the supervisors thought of as friends were actually mocking them behind their backs. He repeatedly portrayed the union as an outsider, deviously trying to insinuate itself between the once loyal workers and the supervisors. He told them that if the union won, everything would have to be done according to strict and impersonal rules. To bring this deception home to both workers and supervisors, he got the employer to institute such rules. The friendly morning meetings with which workers often began their day were eliminated. Supervisors were forbidden to talk with employees, even when they worked alongside of them. Most importantly, the workers were no longer allowed to chat with the residents and were forced to refer to them by their formal names. This was devastating to workers and residents alike.

Anonymous said...

The supervisors were expected to have one-on-one talks with each worker under them to solicit information which Levitt could use to ferret out informers and to spread rumors. Open union supporters were isolated as much as possible, closely dogged by their supervisors and denied contact with fellow employees. Pressure on union supporters might cause some of them to quit or to do something which could get them legally fired, and it sent a message to other workers that open union allegiance was risky. One supervisor, himself sympathetic to the union, was fired amid rumors that he had stolen money from the employer. The general idea was to create a climate of fear and division and then say that this climate did not exist before the union came along. Of course, this was true, thanks to Levitt, but since he never spoke directly to the workers, they were never exactly sure what was causing their misery.

Anonymous said...

The labor laws, themselves, provided the key elements in the union busters' bag of tricks. First, supervisors are not considered employees under the National Labor Relations act and do not enjoy its protections. Therefore, it is perfectly legal for employers to force supervisors to spearhead an anti-union campaign under the direction of people like Levitt. Second, the 1947 Taft-Hartley revisions of the Wagner Act gave employers free reign to wage aggressive propaganda campaigns against the unions which were trying to organize their workers. The "free speech" provision of Section 8 (c) of the Act allows an employer to say anything, even something patently false, as long as the employer does not say anything which is coercive or which promises benefits to the employees.

Anonymous said...

Union busting is a practice, considered by some to be unethical, undertaken by an employer when employees are attempting to join a union. It is the process which some employers may use to prevent their employees from joining a labor union. Another form of union busting is firing an already organized workforce and hiring non-union labor.

During a union busting operation, usually a highly paid Labor Relations consultant, or a "union buster" as they are informally called, is brought in during a union organizing drive to try and convince workers not to join the union.

Anonymous said...

Union busting tactics

The following tactics are sometimes used:

Supervisors and managers can deliver letters, speeches, and informal chats, sometimes prepared by a union-buster.

Employees may be asked to attend one-on-one discussions, group meetings, or lectures about the union, during which they will be paid. Employers must be careful not to intimidate their employees, because employees can appeal to the NLRB, usually resulting in an election being rerun, and in some cases resulting in the employer being automatically required to recognize the union as the bargaining unit representing employees. At these meetings, employers discuss the negative aspects of a union and try to convince employees not to join.

In some cases, supervisors and managers will walk the floors more frequently and arrange impromptu chats and meetings to find out what their workers are up to. However, this can also be interpreted as intimidation and can get the employer in trouble.

The union-busters may prepare many letters to be signed by administrators, employees, and well-liked supervisors and managers. They may express appreciation for what the employees have done for the company, admit having made mistakes in the past and express an intention to do a better job in the future. They may also paint an ugly picture of the union or suggest that the union is hiding something. Lying to employees however, is strictly forbidden.

To convince employees that they don't need a union to obtain improvements, a company may provide unexpected increases in wages or benefits, although they cannot condition said benefits or wages on union participation or threaten wage cuts.

In extreme cases the union-buster may direct management to play one group of employees against another to generate disunity (e.g. "disloyal" union supporters versus "loyal" union opponents, one department against another, etc.). This would likely result in harsh penalties for the company.

United States Labor law presents very strict guidelines for both employer and union actions in union organizing. Unions and employers can attempt to present their factual case against or for the union, but employers cannot threaten employees or even make them feel intimidated. The union buster's key strategy, when confronted with an election, is to organise a Counter-Organizing drive.

Anonymous said...


Following is a checklist of tactics "union busters" use to try to defeat union campaigns. Use this guide to prepare yourself and your colleagues for what will happen. Keep track by checking off each tactic your Employer and/or its Human Resource Personnel attempt to use to try to DEFEAT YOU !


Supervisors will be front-line troops against the union delivering letters, informal chats and speeches prepared by the "Union Busters."


The "Union Busters" will write you many letters and hand out lots of leaflets during the union organizing campaign... only the letters will be signed by upper management, or the Human Resource Personnel - not the Union Busting consultants.


They may tell you, you don’t need a Union to get wage increases, and they were about to increase your pay just prior to the start of the organizing campaign. They may even tell you now that the Union is here they can’t by law give you a raise but would like to give you a dollar raise. DON’T BE FOOLED.


In some of the letters, the "union busting" consultants will have management say how much they really appreciate what all of you do for the organization. They might even admit mistakes! They want to convince you that the "boss" is really a good person who can be trusted with your future.


Most of the letters will paint a pretty ugly picture of the union. Management will want you to think the union is just out for money. They will even refer to the union as a "Third Party." The FACT is, the workers ARE the union - they form the collective voice. The officers will elect their own representatives and will decide what issues they wish to promote and negotiate.


The "Union Busters" will tell management to give you some unexpected perks (i.e. bonuses, paid lunches, parties, etc...) They want you to believe you don't need a union to get good things and improve security.


Management and their RATS will be everywhere. Walking the floors - on every shift. Setting up spur-of-the-moment chats so he/she can find out what's on your mind. "Don't' let a 3rd party come between our wonderful relationship!" BEWARE !


Your supervisors or the Human Resource Department may call you in for face-to-face talks about the union. You have no choice if they insist, however, you do have the right to ask a fellow employee to sit in with you. Also, you do NOT have to divulge your interest in the Union. The supervisor or the Human Resource Department has been told what to say by the "union buster consultants."


They will try to play one group against the other: "Disloyal" union supporters against "loyal pro-employer" union opponents; men vs. women, older vs. younger, day shift vs. night shift, one department against another - whatever works for them.


A small group of employees might be set up to "stand up" for the employer. They want to "save" the organization from the Union. The "Union Buster" is behind this committee and is training the leaders to destroy the union organizing efforts.


Employees might be required, on paid time, to attend meetings where top management will deliver a speech. It is not an open debate. Remember Don’t be Fooled by Union-Busting Propaganda.


Management’s biggest weapon is Fear. In the Security Industry beware of threats of Outsourcing your Job Tactics. This is common in every Union Campaign. Remember - presently you are a, AT-WILL – EMPLOYEE with No Rights, No Voice or No Job Security.

You can be FIRED or Replaced by management at anytime ! Don’t be Fooled ! Only by Unionizing, can You Legally Protect you JOB !

U are the UNION and If U want a VOICE to Negotiate Your Wages, Benefits, Job Security and Working Conditions U must Stand Up and Be Heard !

Remember: 99.9 % of union Do NOT charge Initiation Fees as management would like you to believe. Nor do they charge any monthly dues (which union members call Job Security) until the union negotiates on your behalf your written contract and the majority of officers of VOTE to accept its terms and conditions.

In reality no security professional would vote to accept the union contract if they were to receive less. This result is a WIN WIN situation for every security officer professional to gain the wages and benefits you deserve!

What can I do about the union buster's tactics?

Remember, the union buster plays off of an employee's lack of knowledge about a union. Employees can do several things to counter the union buster:

Ask the Company if they have hired a union buster - Ask the employer's representative whether they have hired a "consultant" to work for them to "educate" employees about the union. Ask the employer how much they are paying the consultant. Employers don't want you to know that they have hired someone to interfere with your rights to organize a union, and you will make them nervous if they have to answer this question. Most union busters charge anywhere from $750 to $2,000 per day plus expenses for their services.

Document - Have as many employees as possible document everything that a supervisor or manager says to employees, whether to a group of employees or an individual employee. A union buster will oft times violate the law in what he says about the union.

Ask Questions - If a supervisor makes an implied threat, ask the supervisor or manager point blank what he or she is trying to say. The employer cannot legally make direct threats to employees about union organization.

Ask for the information the union buster presents in writing - Remember, the general, vague information that supervisors and managers are giving you comes directly from the union buster. Ask management for the information that they are presenting to you in writing.

Protect and support each other - If a supervisor is shadowing an employee, band together for support. A union buster can only be effective in creating fear if the employees let him. If employees stand up to the union buster, he cannot be effective.

Ask the Union - If you have questions about what the union buster is having management say, contact the union for answers.

You can beat a union buster at his own game by sticking together!