THE SELLING OF AMERICA: BIG BUSINESS FIGHTS OFF BIG LABOR 1

The Selling of America: Big Business Fights Off Big Labor – Alternative Strategies to the Counter-Organizing Campaign

Tammy E. Gallinger HRER 504 Pennsylvania State University

THE SELLING OF AMERICA: BIG BUSINESS FIGHTS OFF BIG LABOR 2

ABSTRACT Addressed primarily to human resources and executive management, this paper focuses on union organizing efforts within the private sector and the use of preventative labor relations and positive employee relations as part of a successful union avoidance strategy. After examining copious reading materials (i.e. periodicals, labor journals, blogs, online newspapers, and human resources/labor/law books), including variable statistical analyses associated with employer counter-organizing campaigns, the paper suggests a number of counter strategies, including employee participation programs and employee positive rewards, to counter-balance the anticipated surge in union organizing efforts. These programs, when employed in advance of an organizing campaign in conjunction with appropriate staff training and continued participation and involvement by both management and employees, should result in a favorable, union-free environment. While the statistical and evidentiary documents support a marked increase in the nature, scope and frequency of employer opposition to union organizing, this paper concludes that preventative and pro-active strategies can significantly reduce the need for aggressive, reactionary tactics in order to thwart union intervention in the workplace and, in fact, can significantly reduce the chances of falling victim to an organizing effort.

THE SELLING OF AMERICA: BIG BUSINESS FIGHTS OFF BIG LABOR 3 Organized labor (aka “unions”), like it or not, is big business. Recruiting disenfranchised workers and lobbying politicians on behalf of the greater “social good” and “workers’ rights” is more than just serving a good conscience. In order to better understand just how much money (not to mention power) is involved in organized labor, all one need to do is review the various periodicals, journals, books, and online websites or blogs that discuss unionization, union corruption (including the latest news of union boss’s embezzlement schemes, bribes and threats of violence against corporations and its employees), union lobbying and organizing efforts. Better yet, access the U.S. Department of Labor website and get your (or any other) union’s LM-2 report. Just to show how “big” organized labor actually is, an article posted on the National Legal and Policy Center website (Horowitz, 2008) announced that the United Steelworkers (USW, which represents over 850,000 members nationwide) and a British union (UNITE, which represents some two million workers in the U.K. in the transportation, energy and public sectors) agreed to join forces. If this joint venture succeeds, it will be the first global union of its kind. This is not to suggest by any means that unions are evil organizations without an ounce of merit. Nor is it to infer that corporations are somehow “better than,” less corrupt or more ethical than their union counterparts. The purpose is merely to establish that unions are, in fact, a business. Historically, organized labor, as a service-oriented business, has had a far-reaching and long-lasting (social, political and economic) impact on American life. Understanding that principle, the veil can then be lifted and a greater understanding can be had in deciphering the juggernaut of labor-management relations. As organizations continue to struggle with flagging profit margins; shifts in the job market; (market and labor) competition on a global scale; competing demands for continued innovation with a premium on efficiency, productivity and cost-shrinking; retaining top-performing talent pools in the midst of increased employee dissatisfaction and rapid “burn-out” through burdensome workloads and greater attrition, employers are looking for ways to not only retain but increase their control (over multiple financial, operational, and administrative mechanisms) and maximize productivity, efficiency and flexibility. Organized labor, generally-speaking, is intuitively opposed to an unstructured workforce and unbridled (management) control. If organized labor fails to gain for the worker rights or benefits (s)he

RESPECT Act. Based upon a very primitive interpretation of the economic theory of supply and demand. is experiencing an all-time low. Historically. Bush’s anti-labor “putsch” [DHS et al]). continues to be driven vis-à-vis the pipeline of “co-option” of dissatisfied/maltreated workers by idealistic. expansion of Davis-Bacon Act of 1931) aimed at creating a more laborfriendly public policy and a pro-worker environment through an ultra-liberal. organizers and local administrative staff would be without jobs). the 1981 PATCO strike. This paper will discuss the labor-management relationship from the point of view of employer opposition to unionization and its deployment of alternative union avoidance strategies and techniques.S. greed and ineptitude kills itself off (before Big Business does it in) and are beginning to toll the proverbial death-knell for unions in the U. pro-union NLRB . The demand. Bureau of Labor Statistics. of course.2%. Big Labor and Big Business: America Divided Union density in the private sector. EFCA. has caused a “tidal wave” of pro-labor activity and increased legislation (i. with the Democrats retaining control of both the House and the Senate. without the demand.S.e. in 2009 membership in private sector unions dipped to a paltry 7. so alarmingly low. are the numbers that neophytes and labor relations experts alike are taking Vegas-type bets on how long it will take before Big Labor’s gross apathy.THE SELLING OF AMERICA: BIG BUSINESS FIGHTS OFF BIG LABOR 4 could simply have afforded him/herself without the aid of third-party intervention. the recent shift of power in 2008 vis-à-vis the Obama Administration. unions would be out of business (and labor leaders. While this statement may seem a bit over-melodramatic. sometimes self-serving unions and paternalistic. Despite the seemingly precipitous and rather steady decline in unionization within the private sector. including union representatives. in fact. George W.e. unlike that in the public sector. then the need for unions more or less ceases to exist. National Healthcare Reform. a Republican-dominated political infrastructure has proven to be largely probusiness and anti-labor (i. conservative “Reagan-esque” NLRB appointments and subsequent rulings. some studies are now anticipating a resurgence of union power within the next few years. “bottomfeeding” organizations. according to the U.

Big . the NLRB reported that union election win-rates are the highest in decades.com) in a 2009 survey of 1.THE SELLING OF AMERICA: BIG BUSINESS FIGHTS OFF BIG LABOR 5 (i. due a changing job market. “recess appointment” by President Obama).S. Rassmussen Reports (www. Employers and others suggest that this is not the case at all. determined. bitter internecine feuds among the various unions and labor organizations (i. by the way. former Associate General Counsel for SEIU. as it is that employer intimidation and use of threats have increased. 2009). These aside remarks notwithstanding. In that same year.S. however. in fact. the majority of Americans – when given an opportunity – want a union.e. poor union leadership. Depending upon whose report one is to believe. with a larger share of 58% of Americans having had at least a favorable opinion about unions. Various reports and studies suggest that it’s not so much that U.000 participants nationwide. compared to its study in 2006.rasmussenreports. has this created with regards to employer opposition toward unions and what strategies are organizations employing to counter-act and/or pre-empt unionization of its workforce? The United States of Unions The numbers don’t lie – unionization within the private sector in the U. There are a few questions currently at play: a) what is the “average” American’s consensus (if there is. one at all) on unions? b) Given the ideological and political shift toward Big Labor. pollster Peter Hart conducted a survey of workers indicating that as many as 60 million Americans would join a union tomorrow – if they could. if any. which. Change to Win) and other socio-political-economic causes – as well as increased employer awareness and pro-activity in employee engagement. appointments à la Craig Becker. In the first half of 2008. was a unilateral. AFL-CIO. workers don’t want a union.e. is down. A 2006 poll of the general public by the Pew Research Center found that 68 percent of Americans believe that labor unions are necessary to protect working families. labor unions won 66% of elections they asked to be conducted (Wilson. what effect. that only nine percent (9%) of Americans want to have a union. satisfaction and participation (HRM) programs and techniques – workers are less inclined to join a union. is what those numbers actually mean. however. what isn’t clear. so as to cause a substantial reduction in the number of workforce units being unionized.

one could postulate – without delving into the issue of Constitutional rights – that the employer (as much as the employee) has the right . they may already have labor relations experts in-house who have experience with implementing union avoidance strategies and conducting anti-union certification campaigns. Organizations may choose to hire outside counsel as described above or in many cases. the terms union avoidance¸ preventative labor relations and union-busting are used interchangeably by labor practitioners on both sides of the fence. labor consultants. the anticipated strike). “’Protecting democracy’ is simply the facade the corporate opposition is using to wage war on organized labor…union-busting tactics “designed.e.” (Logan. strike management strategies -. in this author’s opinion. implementing a union avoidance strategy in some of the more aggressive organizations may also include. which offer a variety of services – including vulnerability assessments. to undermine employees’ free choice of bargaining representatives. industrial psychologists or strike management firms. at every juncture. There are those who would believe that any action. by many accounts. etc. Union Avoidance: A Rose by Any Other Name One of the more controversial of such efforts is the use of aggressive campaigns in representational elections as a union avoidance strategy. unloading an existing union) is driven by union animus and is therefore. more often than not.THE SELLING OF AMERICA: BIG BUSINESS FIGHTS OFF BIG LABOR 6 Business. team building. Nonetheless. in addition to perfectly legal avoidance tactics. organizations frequently hire high-priced union avoidance law firms. p. seeing the writing on the wall. has responded in kind by pursuing. 2002. “anti-union” or automatically synonymous with union-busting. This statement is overly-broad. in fact. as well as the common observer. 198). work councils. ADR systems. some rather nefarious and/or illegal “persuader” and union-busting activities.based upon the specific needs of the client as well as the “stage” of the organizing campaign (or as the case may be. plan or strategy (i. Frequently. ipso facto.) that is undertaken by a company related to remaining union-free (or in some cases. employee participation/involvement programs. more vociferous and aggressive strategies aimed at avoiding unions altogether. labor-management committees.

Take your choice…The message is not anti-union. in fact.the process by which a union. are exercising their opportunity and right under the guidelines of currently-established law to offer differing and/or alternative viewpoints in opposition to that which is being presented (to its employees) by the union.(Fernandez. I would call it class management.e. by engaging in counter-organizing campaigns or decertification campaigns. If the goal is good employee relations and the side effect is a union-free organization.is specifically authorized by law. The right of employees to unionize -. 2). In an article published by John Logan in the British Journal of Industrial Relations entitled. so long as the employer conducts activities and behavior as proscribed by the applicable body(s) of state and/or federal laws (i. etc.to join together as a unit for collective bargaining with their employer -.a retired Professor of Organizational Behavior and Industrial Relations at Haas School of Business (University of California at Berkeley) and former President of the U. Further to the point. Additionally. Industrial Relations Research Institute -. But that same law not only permits employees to refuse to unionize initially. Employers. best known for his union avoidance manual. Its theme is simply. 2006. once it has become the elected representative of the employees.THE SELLING OF AMERICA: BIG BUSINESS FIGHTS OFF BIG LABOR 7 to determine the workplace environment within the confines and context of legally prescribed rules and regulations.). FLRA. including the desire to encourage a pro-employee (rather than anti-labor) work environment. May 2002. in and of themselves are not necessarily “antiunion” in nature and may. NLRA. mostly likely be a strategic decision based upon a complex number of factors and considerations.S. But Hughes sees things differently: “If the goal is to fight unions…it could be called union-busting. Making Unions Unnecessary. How Many of These . refutes any argument that his own (union avoidance) activities as a consultant are in any way related to union busting.” (Logan. George Strauss -. In this way. The Union Avoidance Industry in the United States: Unions have accused Hughes and other industrial psychologists of using subtle forms of manipulation and intimidation to ensure that employees are prevented from organizing.in his article titled. LMRA. Charles Hughes. “Unions are unnecessary for those who work in or our organization. the author of this paper would not necessarily consider all counter-organizing or anti-union campaigns to be union-busting. but goes one step beyond to provide a framework for “de-unionization” -. may later be removed from that position if the employees so wish. Railway Labor Act. as the case may be. Hughes 1984). para. union avoidance strategies.

and clearly demonstrate the advantages of engaging in proactive. but from its customers. lockouts. decreased or remained relatively unchanged? Employer Opposition: Deal or No Deal A majority of business organizations today implement some type of union-avoidance strategy as a critical component of its over-arching human resources management strategy. “soft HRM” union avoidance strategies -. decertification campaigns. however. First.S. Thus for suspicious people almost everything management does in the broad human resources area is ipso facto anti-union. personnel practices such as selective recruitment and screening initiatives. and faces a variety of pressures – not just from its employees. including ‘work councils’ or teams. Thus – and this is my main point – management's motivation is often more complex than just anti-unionism.apart from the more aggressive and reactive counter-organizing campaign -. The extent to which . 2009). An organization may adapt an arsenal of “weapons” by deploying one of several union avoidance strategies which may include counter-organizing campaigns. goes on to state: For some Marxist and many economists. Further. the author will discuss positive employee relations and preventative labor relations as two of the more popular. the sole goal of managers is to maximise profits. workplace democracy).THE SELLING OF AMERICA: BIG BUSINESS FIGHTS OFF BIG LABOR 8 Are Anti-Union Practices? A U. Perspective and published in the Labor Journal (2009. union avoidances strategies. or preventative labor relations (aka “substitution”) without necessarily engaging in union-busting as it has come to be understood. (Strauss. It needs to make and sell things. Management has other things to do besides fight unions. and the government.e. I think this conclusion overbroad. this paper will illustrate that these strategies can be equally effective in thwarting union organizing activities. (usually) attitudinally-positive. November). exist today? Has employer opposition increased. employee involvement (EI) programs. the issue of employer opposition must be addressed. To what extent does employer opposition to union organizing and unions in general. if appropriately implemented and consistently practiced. its stockholders. paternalism. Further many of the same people believe that having a union automatically reduces profits. In the sections that follow. Union avoidance strategies may encompass such concepts as industrial democracy (i.

D. is a nonpartisan (read.). the Center for Union Facts (CUF). the Center for Union Facts is an interest/advocacy group which serves to monitor union activities and was founded by Washington.e.(union). D. J. Journal of Labor Research. and the interpretation of the information (consumer-bias. Number 3. University of Minnesota (Intensity of Management Resistance: Understanding the Decline of Unionization in the Private Sector..” founded by a group of economists in 1986 and American Rights at Work Education Fund -. and more recently. Bronfenbrenner’s most recently published work – an EPI Briefing Paper titled. violence. nonprofit organization that advocates for workers and their right to form unions without interference. Bronfenbrenner’s latest study originated from a review of primary NLRB documents (through a FOIA . etc. A massive compendium and some of the more popular studies on labor union organizing and unionization trends within the United States (both private and public sectors) have been published by Kate Bronfenbrenner. Summer 2001). No Holds Barred: The Intensification of Employer Opposition to Organizing.C. An Analysis of Current NLRB Data on Unlawful Terminations During Union Organizing Campaigns.THE SELLING OF AMERICA: BIG BUSINESS FIGHTS OFF BIG LABOR 9 employer opposition has increased over the past couple of decades. the studies do reveal interesting insights about employers’ attitudinal positions toward unions in general and their commitment to maintaining a union-free environment. Of course. illegal threats. neither study is without its inherent bias. sold separately).” Conversely. a union-organizer-turned leading. – which. Volume XXII. including the use of more aggressive and vitriolic forms of union avoidance (i. was sponsored by the Economic Policy Institute of Washington.researcher and current Director of Labor Education at the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations. much like everything else in the world of industrial relations. Kleiner. Unfortunately. 2007 to 2008 (Wilson.org). lobbyist Richard Berman. Morris M.C. commission of unfair labor practices. is an important question with serious consequences.. Nonetheless. the answer depends in large part on whom you ask.defined by Wikipedia as “a self-described non-partisan. March 2009). according to its own website (http://www. the source and reliability (as well as skew) of the data.epi. liberal) not-for-profit think tank that “seeks to broaden the public debate about strategies to achieve a fair and prosperous and fair economy. PhD. which released an analysis of National Labor Relations Board data.

interviews with head organizers] with that same sample. In combination. 52% are still without a contract a year later. harassment and other discipline. and alternation of benefits and conditions. Highlights from the study reveal (Bronfenbrenner. social events. March 4. bribes and special favors. employers are less likely to offer “carrots. Unions filed unfair labor practice charges in 39% of the survey sample and 40% of the NLRB election sample. Bronfenbrenner readily addresses this issue by explaining that ULPs by themselves are inadequate for tracking the totality of employer behavior for a number of reasons: a) unions are wary to . employers used supervisor one-on-one meetings to interrogate workers about who they or other workers supported. including an in-depth survey of 562 campaigns conducted [read. In 63% of elections. interrogation. 2003. In 2007.004 NLRB certification elections that took place between January 1. and 37% are still without a contract two years after an election. of course. discharges. Workers were forced to attend anti-union one-on-one sessions with a supervisor at least weekly in two-thirds of elections. the survey and ULP findings reveal that employer opposition has intensified: the incidence of elections in which employers used 10 or more tactics more than doubled compared to the three earlier periods studied. Most research on the subject of unlawful terminations – deemed “discharges” by the NLRB – during organizing campaigns has relied on interviews with union organizers conducted by union-funded researchers (as cited in the Center for Union Facts. there has been an increase in more coercive and retaliatory tactics (“sticks”) such as plant closing threats and actual plant closings. archival blog.THE SELLING OF AMERICA: BIG BUSINESS FIGHTS OFF BIG LABOR 10 request) using a random sample of 1. Even for those who do win the election.” as (we) see a gradual decrease in tactics such as granting of unscheduled raises. May 2009. captive audience meetings. (Bronfenbrenner. 1-3): • Employer threatened to close the plant in 57% of elections. the highest percent of allegations – were threats. promises of improvement. there were only 1. positive personnel changes. This. and employee involvement programs. Although the use of management consultants. p. 21). and in 54% used such sessions to threaten workers. discharges. 2009. 2009) • • • • The analytic data provided in her study which sourced both NLRB elections. and the nature of campaigns has changed so that the focus is on more coercive and punitive tactics designed to intensely monitor and punish union activity. and wage and benefits altered for union activity. surveillance. discharged workers in 34%. At the same time. an analysis of NLRB ULP documents and an NLRB election sample all from years 1999-2003.510 representation elections and only 58. suggests that the percentage of mean elections where “at least one allegation upheld or settled” was 6% related to discharges and 2% related to harassment (Bronfenbrenner. p. and supervisor one-on-ones have remained fairly constant. in this author’s opinion presents at minimum a conflict of interest and sustains the possibility of skewing the resultant data. 1999 and December 31. surveillance. 2009). The survey and NLRB documents both show that the most aggressive employer anti-union behavior – that is.376 workers gained representation through the NLRB. and threatened to cut wages and benefits in 47% of elections.

the NLRB’s General Counsel determined that “158 election-related Unfair Labor Practice Charges alleging unlawful terminations had merit.e. 2009. p. 2007 to 2008. Labor and management have. off-shoring. 2007 and December 31. out-sourcing. used the following criteria to determine the number of discharge allegations filed in conjunction with an organizing campaign: ULP charges filed between January 1. The study presented by the Center for Union Facts. elimination of benefits.) within the context of a shifting job market and expanding global economy. and lay-offs – shifting more and more of the . p.THE SELLING OF AMERICA: BIG BUSINESS FIGHTS OFF BIG LABOR 11 file charges when there is a high probability of winning an election because an employer can use this to his/her advantage by indefinitely blocking or delaying the election. historically had an adversarial relationship – one often leading to mutual threats of violence and even death. 2009. p. cost-sharing programs. etc. 309 were determined to lack merit and the remaining allegations required further investigation. worker’s rights. What makes these surveys all the more interesting is the appropriateness of the topic given the current re-focusing of attention on the labor movement (i. 2008. while management is left scrambling to devise “new” ways whittle down the budget through attrition. 2). Employers and workers are on the precipice of monumental change – each “side” vying for a more substantial piece of the pie – a Darwinian-type war of “survival of the fittest”. ULP charges that the NLRB determined to be associated with an organizing campaign. (Bronfenbrenner. The results of this study revealed that for years 2007 and 2008. Based on this data. a maximum of 3. 8).” (Wilson. and c) many ULP “wins” are not captured in NLRB or court determinations but rather informal settlements that occur after charges are filed but before the merit determination takes place. outsourcing. throughout the ages.75% of union organization campaigns included unlawful termination. An Analysis of Current NLRB Data on Unlawful Terminations During Union Organizing Campaigns. or after the election as part of the first contract process. were withdrawn. or otherwise remained undetermined. b) the length of time it takes to resolve a ULP and the associated weak penalties for violations are detracting motivators. ULP charges filed against businesses. May 2009.3). and ULP charges alleging “discharge” (Wilson. corporations are looking to “trim the fat” when there’s nary a bone left on the heap pile.

approximately 49% of employers used more than 10 tactics in NLRB elections.9 employer tactics. the “stick” method of anti-union campaigns has become the “new norm. frequency and scope. harassment. the number of tactics used by the employer more than doubled between 1986 and 2003. The plethora of newspaper and online articles citing “union-busting” and aggressive anti-union activities by well-known and respected companies (i. with 82% using more than five. What distinguishes the current organizing climate from previous decades of employer oppositions to unions. in fact. interrogation. p.e. The employee. p. Whole Foods. they are being asked to share a greater portion of the economic burden whilst participating less in organizational profits or resultant benefits. surveillance. Cintas. the kind previously found only at employers such as WalMart. is that the most intense and aggressive anti-union campaign strategies. Starbucks. namely that threats. with the mean of elections involving 10. increasing both in intensity. are no longer reserved just for a select group of extreme anti-union employers. in most cases. Additional data further . 13). more subtle forms) of union-busting to get rid of the union weight. Wal-Mart. 14). Blue Diamond Almond) abound. Michaels Arts & Crafts Stores. it appears that employer opposition is. Station Casinos. caught standing at an empty banquet table like a character out of Dickens’ Oliver Twist – begging for one more morsel (of food).THE SELLING OF AMERICA: BIG BUSINESS FIGHTS OFF BIG LABOR 12 burden (and less of the profits) to the worker. It seems that most employers feel less need to bother with the carrot and instead are going straight for the stick…new findings show a consistent pattern across the data. Referencing statistical analysis provided by Bronfenbrenner (2009. Verizon. and those organizations that are “saddled” with unions are often resorting to old-fashioned (and some newer. full-time positions are being eliminated in favor of part-time positions or independent contractor positions with little or no benefits. is left fighting for a very slim piece of a mostly-eaten pie. workers’ wages are being frozen or cut. organizations that are being threatened with unionization are doing everything in their power (often resorting to illegal and dubious practices) to maintain a union-free environment. 2009. the University of Wisconsin. (Bronfenbrenner. Earthgrains. between 1999 and 2003. and retaliation were the most common tactics across all the campaigns surveyed. and 6% using no tactics at all.” Data notwithstanding. according to Bronfenbrenner (2009).

especially – bringing in revenue over several hundred million dollars annually (some have estimated it to be valued more closely at $4 billion dollars) and despite dismal union density rates. Union avoidance as a separate growth industry is particularly unique to the United States – although a few U. drastically affect the union’s win rate. 2010). 65% v. Highbeam Research. compared with a 5percent decline for best bargain firms. on average. Overall. a survey of management industrial relations practices conducted by The Conference Board in 1977 and 1983 reflected a priority shift in 1983 toward union avoidance and away from a “best bargain” strategy The article goes on to state: …the most important and most obvious consequence of a union avoidance strategy is its effect on union membership and growth within unionized firms.5 percent in 1977 to 18. v. weak campaign (1-4 tactics). labor unions have grown stronger than they have been since the early 1980s (Greve.K. Union organizers are . Superintendent of Documents. 1986.S. Chalykoff and P.5 percent to 60. law firms and expert labor consultants have established and/or are making attempts to “export” this value-added service overseas. union avoidance has increased significantly in popularity and use since about 1983. 35% when employer did not use 1-4 tactics. p. (Monthly Labor Review. in fact.” In fact. Because union coverage was substantially lower in the former to begin with. (Bronfenbrenner. “since the 2008 elections.8-percent decline in coverage for union avoidance firms. 7).6 percent in 1983. 40%. to the U. such that the greater number of tactics employed by the employer. moderate campaign (5-9 tactics). Remaining Union-Free: What’s All the Fuss? Although certainly not a “new” strategy. its decline in percentage terms is much more substantial. unionization in union avoidance firms dropped. a 20. and no tactics used. Cappelli in the Monthly Labor Review (1986). according to Curtis Greve. 52% when employer did not use 5-9 tactics. the union’s win rate increased: aggressive campaigns (10 or more tactics). 2009. 72%. compared with 63. 45% vs. para.5 percent for best bargain firms over the same period.THE SELLING OF AMERICA: BIG BUSINESS FIGHTS OFF BIG LABOR 13 suggests that the intensity of the employer’s campaign does. the lower the union’s win and where the employer chose not to use a quantifiable number of tactics. Citing an article by J. 55% when employer did not use 10 or more tactics. from 23. it looks as though the unions have re-upped their game and are positioned for significant growth. 11-13). an independent consultant specializing in labor relations and supply chain management.

Andy Stern.THE SELLING OF AMERICA: BIG BUSINESS FIGHTS OFF BIG LABOR 14 leveraging technology by training organizers to use up-to-the-minute methods (i. In short. email. Policies and procedures should be instituted such that employee participation. as well as other “hidden” costs such as the diversion of internal resources in managing the campaign and away from running the business. mobile platforms. . constant in its vigilance both in monitoring the performance of management and employees alike and in developing programs that anticipate and respond to employee needs.) to attract potential new members and are designing web pages in support of organizing efforts within those businesses that have been targeted. for example. With the Government’s current pro-labor stance and a re-invigorated union leadership (i. SIEU President. engagement and understanding are ensured. Richard Trumka) at the helm. social networking sites such as Facebook. thus giving management the upper hand. etc. costing the employer often several thousands of dollars per vote with an entire campaign running well into six and sometimes seven figures. are less costly and more pro-active (and less reactive). in the end. many organizations today are looking at implementing alternative strategies or programs that not only make unionization less attractive to its employee base but. viral technology like YouTube. increased customer service issues. The cost of fighting a union campaign can be staggering.e.” In order to remain unionfree. The Teamsters. “There are no magic silver bullets in labor relations. not including indirect costs related to a reduction in productivity.e. AFL-CIO President. a company must want to make the workplace as “issue-free” as is possible. an organization must be consistent in its communication efforts with employees – to the point of over-communicating. Twitter. the threat posed by unions to American businesses is greater now than ever before. decreased quality. Given the high financial and “emotional” costs involved in waging an anti-union campaign. Unions: Why Go Thee Hither? If the Lone Ranger were an industrial relations consultant instead of a cowboy hero. maintaining a union-free environment is constantly a work in progress and the work is never finished. have a site that enables organizers to design websites in support of their organizing efforts. he’d be the first to tell employers.

Esq. it is the employer’s job to help employees deal effectively and swiftly with their issues or problems.e. and “failure”: failure of management to communicate expectations. are driven primarily by “lack”: lack of communication. including disciplinary actions. a third party will get them more or get them a better outcome than they can reasonably attain on their own. yet. lack of employee participation or involvement. lack of job security and/or job design. acceptance and understanding of this principle are critical to remaining free of third-party intervention. one must remember why employees seek it out in the first place. in his book The Next 52 Weeks: One Year to Transform Your Work Environment. and no grievance procedures. This is a difficult concept for most employers to acknowledge. While there are a number of postulations on the subject of why employees choose to join unions. employee representative groups/associations. support third party intervention. According to Wilson. lack of personal recognition and valuation of one’s job to the organization. however. The reasons. let alone.. inadequate wages/benefits.). let alone understand. Essentially. Phillip B. lack of true leadership within the organizational hierarchy. most would agree without much contest that certain conditions must exist in order for employees to invite. codified the gamut of reasons into three main “motivational” categories. failure to cultivate employee identity within corporate culture. In order to effectively eliminate the need and/or the threat of unionization or any other type of third-party intervention (i. Wilson. employees turn to third-parties when they feel a problem or issue is too big to handle on their own. discriminate and/or inconsistent treatment in the application of policies and procedures. convince employees that they can get as much or more for . government. subjection to health/safety hazards and failure to address these issues in a meaningful way. while innumerable. lack of or poorly written/misunderstood policies. Any strategy to eliminate the threat of unionization or third-party intervention must attack each of these motivations. procedures and rules.THE SELLING OF AMERICA: BIG BUSINESS FIGHTS OFF BIG LABOR 15 Organizations that wish to remain in business and retain the flexibility and power of a union-free environment must inherently recognize that it is able to do so only with the consent of the individuals it employs. etc. or a third party somehow lends more credibility to the employee’s problem or issue.

P. implementation of a variety of positive programs for employees and lots of hard work.” recognizes that in most workplaces where thirdparty intervention is a risk. a commitment to the development of a positive employee rewards program combined with a strong preventative labor relations strategy.THE SELLING OF AMERICA: BIG BUSINESS FIGHTS OFF BIG LABOR 16 themselves by liaising with management without having to seek the aid of a union. Wilson also offers up two critical theories on avoiding third-party intervention. (Wilson. Solving problems involve supervisory training. you can cut off its head but it just keeps coming back. They’re . This approach is attractive due to its “quick fix” but the success of this method.” by eliminating the problem (usually a vocal union activist/ring-leader and/or disruptive employees) at the source. by default. 14-16). and help employees understand that management considers their issues with equal credibility and that no additional credibility would be gained by turning to a third party. measured and public acts over the course of months are required to turn (a toxic workplace) around. It’s like asking someone if they’d rather take a trip to Disneyland or visit the Keebler cookie factory. all in the hopes of snagging a few “freebies” but on the whole. most (‘normal’) people would choose a trip to D-land and an afternoon with Goofy any day. become unnecessary. the “dragon” is more like the Hydra from ancient mythology. (Wilson. positive employee relations and (total) rewards programs just make good (business) sense. This approach. unions. sure. over time the root causes remain and the trouble persists.. Positively Rewarding: Employee Relations & Rewards Programs Taking the union out of the equation for a minute. there are those out there that would prefer to get up at the crack of dawn just to grab a rare sighting of a few white-suited folks get all excited about slathering baked goodies in chocolate. If an organization can achieve these points through continued communication. The first theory revolves around “cutting the head off the dragon. p. 2004. While the problem might get better initially. He advises that “consistent. chances are – they are you and me.” The second theory is “substitution” or a “pre-emptive” approach. is relatively unsuccessful. in fact. Ok. unlike “cutting the head off the dragon. 2004). by itself. The point being this: employees are just like you and me.

positive employee relations and rewards program is the equivalent of a trip to Disneyland (or. don’t just “speak to” employees. collaborative bargaining [IBB]). Developing a good. Perform analysis of internal compensation system for disparities.” adversarial bargaining) – which is usually what the employer-employee relationship tends to resemble. designed as a forum for the airing of issues. “traditional. don’t compare Fox TV to PBS). become more invested in (and loyal to) the organization. we call that interest-based. engage them. ideas for . Employees reap the benefit of working for an organization that is invested in them and they. sort of) and they want the good stuff…and if you can throw in a few “freebies” along the way. Without leadership. • Surveys/Taking the Pulse: Conduct employee engagement surveys and vulnerability assessments to assess overall employee level of engagement/satisfaction and to better determine what changes need to be made within the organization. nonetheless.THE SELLING OF AMERICA: BIG BUSINESS FIGHTS OFF BIG LABOR 17 normal (well. if you prefer.e. to determine their employees are being paid competitively (include benefits). • Communication: Build teams centered around communication. ask for feedback. it is still a more subtle yet effective tool in remaining union free: valued and engaged employees make for satisfied employees who don’t see the need for a union. A cult of leadership should be fostered at levels within the organization. “frequent flyer miles”) for employees and management alike. Positive employee relations is often considered a “soft” skill set in the human resources management. in turn. It’s a win-win (in negotiation parlance. The make-up and composition of the companies should be similar (i. involving HR and managers from various departments/divisions. Include employees in the communication process. even better. as opposed to win-lose (again in negotiation parlance. both locally and distally in neighboring geographic regions. What follows are a few examples of what makes for a solid positive employee relations program: • Competitive Wages: organizations should evaluate wages of similarly situated employees in other companies. there is no clear vision.

and the employee should be held accountable for his/her performance. workplace policies and procedures.e. Clarify any questions. Goals and expectations should be developed with the employee. Newsletters. Company Intranet. if one does not already exist. wage and hour violations. procedures and codes of conduct should be properly aligned with the organization’s mission statement and culture. Vet through legal counsel. harassment. Develop a system to track compliance. assign an agreed upon meeting schedule and follow up with the team leader. • Create an Employee Handbook.). • Convey Expectations. EEO. continuity and consistency. etc.THE SELLING OF AMERICA: BIG BUSINESS FIGHTS OFF BIG LABOR 18 new policies or interventions.. listen for concerns. company’s commitment to remaining union-free. invite managers to review documents to ensure content is clear and concise. Suggestion Box. Encourage Responsibility: Managers and supervisors should be trained in positive employee relations. • Institute a Solicitation and Distribution Policy. without discrimination. Code of Ethics/Conduct: Workplace policies. • Educate: Managers and supervisors on areas relevant to labor and employee relations (i. including positive and/or progressive discipline. Train managers and supervisors on how to apply policies and procedures uniformly and consistently. Company Policy Manual. handling violence in the work place. Take regular feedback from line managers to strategize on group performance plan. Other: one-to-one meetings with employees targeted for high performance. employee coaching. where appropriate. Pose hypothetical situations to management team(s) and solicit response. Ensure that the policy complies with the NLRA and that it is applied consistently and uniformly. etc. performance monitoring and evaluation. . NLRA. performance improvement or other.

employee surveys asking for feedback.. (Cox. the proportion of employees taking part in these practices.) and other cash-for-trade type programs.org ). team briefings. 2007 blog article posted on the SHRM website (http://shrm. S.) the number of employee involvement practices in an organization (e. & Marchington. productivity watch. Provide training in order to facilitate managerial skills.e. A 2006 Employee Participation Study as cited in an August. and the frequency and amount of time allotted to these practices. movie tickets.. The authors measured embeddedness by: 1. In addition to employee productivity or merit bonuses. Any problem areas should be identified and resolved by management immediately. Zagelmeyer. M. fair distribution of scheduling and overtime compliance. A. employees should be screened with a view toward making a “best fit” for the person and the organization. rewards coupons (i. • Recruitment and Retention Policy: Develop a policy that enhances and encourages diversity within the workplace. as required for job performance. 2006). argued that the positive impact of employee involvement practices – in terms of job satisfaction and organizational commitment – is greater when the practices are more rooted in the organization.) 3. Develop a cohesive plan to evaluate supervisors and managers on their employee relations skills and activities. the following are some additional examples of a good employee rewards program where the cost is minimal and the payoff is invaluable: • Negotiate an Employee Wellness Program.THE SELLING OF AMERICA: BIG BUSINESS FIGHTS OFF BIG LABOR 19 • Quality Working Conditions: Working conditions should be clean and safe. Policies and programs should reflect the culture of the organization. Employees should be OSHA-trained. etc.g.) 2. raffles. . raise employee productivity and are a low-cost alternative and/or supplement to more expensive employer-provided benefits. etc. interactions with senior managers. Various studies have shown that Wellness Programs increase employee satisfaction and well-being. • Train Managers and Supervisors: Management must be able to effectively interact and guide employees.). etc.

and mini-sabbaticals). Like most of us. and yes. steeped in a corporate culture that is identifiable and real -. Sylvia Ann Hewlett. innovative.and you have an organization that is able to attract and retain top talent and be union-free. the small/large group and one-on-one or facilitated meetings. before the day even begins. and keep it going. What happens is simple. 65). an economist and founder of the Center for Work-Life Policy in New York City. The importance. p. staggered hours. says “have employees propose their own work programs and measure the results. they’re very well aware that “communication” is their number one challenge.e. in advance of any real signs of an organizing campaign. they usually know what those issues are because they’ve “done” all the (employee) opinion and engagement surveys. we find ourselves overloaded with so many projects and tasks we don’t even know where to begin. challenging environment that not only responds to but anticipates employees’ needs. the novelty wears off and we go back to our old (and probably easy but very bad) habits. Preventative Labor Relations: Call Me “Auntie” Union The concept behind preventative labor relations (“substitution”) is two-fold: create a positive. (Hewlett. in fact. we try something. compressed work week. team process. reduced schedules/flextime.” • Retain Career Development through the use of cross-training and providing employees an opportunity to work in other areas through “stretch assignments. so this . encourages them to be creative and engaged – part of a solutions-oriented. maybe two organizing campaigns admit that they have “issues”. however. they seem surprised to find themselves undergoing yet another organizing campaign. is to have a workable strategy already in place. 2009. telecommuting. Yet. December. same thing with the work environment. Except at work.THE SELLING OF AMERICA: BIG BUSINESS FIGHTS OFF BIG LABOR 20 • Formalize Employee Flexibility (i.” • Create Employee Pride and Purpose by encouraging employees to “give back to the community” through volunteerism – on company time. it works for a while. Many organizations who have survived one.

firms tell them: ‘This is a union free operation. Some organizations have combined the paternalism of a “company union” with an attempt to design its . Therefore.’ (Logan. Not all of the tactics employed are appropriate as long-term strategies. 2006. December).” it’s important to present some of the more “flavorful” techniques employed as part of a preventative labor relations strategy at a company most-near you.” (Mason. and some are dubious. he views (sic) this as a proxy for his or her loyalty to the firm: ‘Every person in a leadership role must accept the union-free responsibility as part of the job. Hughes suggests (sic) that employers ‘place them with your competitors…Either they share in the belief system or they cannot be managers in your organization. 1984). starting with the first day of hire. pursuing another agenda which is directly against the employees’ interests. 1991). As to what to do with those who are unwilling or unable to commit to the firm’s union-free goals. Pre-emptive strategies practiced at organizations throughout the U. Indeed. in fact.S. Hughes also stressed that managers and supervisors must be willing and able to convey the firm’s union-free philosophy. this is where the employee orientation (aka “indoctrination”) process comes into play. a policy or practice of treating employees in a paternalistic manner. So. right?!) is just one more thing to do. and it is our desire that it always will be that way. In an effort to be “fair and balanced. Hughes. one more long laundry list of stuff to get accomplished yesterday. (This strategy could also be one of “suppression” as well as “substitution”). Said another way. published in the British Journal of Industrial Relations (2006. vary both in nature and scope. if not downright illegal. no one in management is immune from carrying his or her ‘own weight’ in the union prevention effort. using the Wal-Mart mantra: “The commitment to stay union-free must exist at all levels of management – from the chairperson of the ‘Board’ down to the front-line manager. • Paternalism.THE SELLING OF AMERICA: BIG BUSINESS FIGHTS OFF BIG LABOR 21 wonderful program that is supposed to keep us union-free (yippee. or leave…Disagreements with or deviation from this goal cannot be tolerated on the part of any manager or supervisor. Hughes and DeMaria 1984). Charles Hughes offered this sage advice: Companies (should) state explicitly their dedication to a union-free environment…from the point that employees are first hired.’ (Hughes 1984. in such a way that the employer is only nominally serving their interests while. In the case of an employer-employee relationship. As quoted in John Logan’s article The Union Avoidance Industry in the United States.

Charles Romeo. companies believe they are also less likely to support unions (cited in Bacon. has instituted systematic recruitment campaigns for immigrant workers. hours reduced or ‘otherwise shown the door’) [Turl. Arkansas store (population.e.” ConAgra. ConAgra manager. transferred. 2007).THE SELLING OF AMERICA: BIG BUSINESS FIGHTS OFF BIG LABOR 22 own brand of a “union-proof” workforce by “converting motels into permanent living quarters for Mexican and Central American workers. fired.744 per 2007 Census). for example. wherein Honda Motor Corp. announced in 2006 that it was building a new plant amid the farms of southeastern Indiana…and then abruptly announced later the following year that “only people living in 20 of the state’s 92 counties could apply for jobs – a move that excluded most of the state’s thousands of unionized laid-off workers. In its Bentonville. immigration problems.” (Boudette. the labor relations manual suggests: (management) screen as many applicants as possible to ensure hiring the most qualified person (read: “positive.e.). Wal-Mart apparently keeps constant track of the “union threat” through a “Union Probability Index” (UPI) – later more appropriate renamed “Unaddressed People Issues.d. Citing a fairly recent event involving Honda and UAW. so that the “right people” (i. • Scrub for ‘SALTS. In the eyes of managers. offering on-site child care. recruited by labor contractors to take jobs in local chicken plants (Bacon. immigrant workers are not only a workforce with low wage expectations. Because immigrants face an unknown and unfriendly environment.d.” “enthusiastic”) for any opening you have available. 2010]. • Wal-Mart is notorious for its union-busting activities and here’s just one more example of why unions and Sam Walton don’t go together like mom and apple pie. 33. and ignorance of their labor rights. n.” Sources say that a store with a high index is given special attention (and not like the old K-Mart ‘blue light special’ kind of attention) by headquarters. utilize ‘consensus’ interviewing when interviewing applicants in which the store has a strong interest – then .” “dedicated. n. rebel-rousers) can be “otherwise disposed of” (i.). told Business Week: It’s clear that the company sees a big advantage in the situation.’ Using the Wal-Mart approach again. prenatal care and housing projects. • Selective Recruiting and Screening of Potential Applicants.

(Mason.THE SELLING OF AMERICA: BIG BUSINESS FIGHTS OFF BIG LABOR 23 compare notes and recommendations for hiring. as well as the overall impact on the organization itself. ADR/grievance panels) – and are being heralded as efficient and innovative ways to enhance productivity within a competitive. working teams. also referred to as Employee Involvement Programs (EI). and finally. management (from the highestranking executive to the lowest level supervisor) and employees must be fully committed to the success and continued growth of the program(s). The tactics presented above. Unions win only 16 percent of representation elections where quality of work programs exist as compared with the 45 percent success rate during the early 1980s for all NLRB representation elections. Quality Circles. its corporate culture and mission statement (including its code of ethics and conduct).” According to a blog article by Martin Webster on employee participation: . “was the quality of work life plan…” (Eiger. the employer must consider its short. 1984). ensure applicants provide a complete work history – ask applicants to fill in the gaps. AFL-CIO.” according to Charles McDonald.S. they have been extremely effective. peer review committees. are not the best solutions for a stable and productive union-free environment. “Workplace democracy” type strategies are quite effective in enhancing employee engagement and overall satisfaction within the workplace and simultaneously act as a natural deterrent to union organizing. In developing an appropriate union-avoidance/preventative labor relations strategy.S. formerly director of organization for the AFL-CIO. check references thoroughly. Employee Involvement Programs Employee Empowerment Programs. 1991). and Japan were Quality Circles (QCs) and other “upward problem solving forms.e. In order for EI programs to be maximally effective. when they are used to persuade workers that their voice is heard and a union is unnecessary.and long-term goals. global economy. have a rather long and favorable history with employers and employees alike and have been successfully employed by U. 1989. Various forms of participative decision-making models exist within the HRM schema – some of which are mentioned below (i. One of the first EI schemes to arrive in the U. “The one major company benefit that drastically affected union organizing drives. Whatever one’s view of employee involvement systems. while interesting. organizations for several decades as a well-established business practice.

a further flaw with QCs is that they have a short “shelf-life” and are not embedded in the organization and have no decision making powers. (Rowe. n. technical background. Ideally. the system would also take virtually every kind of concern that is of interest to people in the organization.e. interestbased. employees. teamworking consists of a small group of about ten or less employees who are empowered to take care of a specific function. Essentially. QCs often fail due to the lack of training and leadership abilities necessary to lead a circle. 2009. requires substantial training to ensure that team members. rights-based dispute resolution techniques) and diverse resource personnel (i. the system would include a neutral third-party – an organizational ombudsperson –to help informally with any workplace concern.d. and therefore. in general order of preference or frequency.THE SELLING OF AMERICA: BIG BUSINESS FIGHTS OFF BIG LABOR 24 QCs aim to tap into employee knowledge and opinion through the mechanism of small groups. including disputes between coworkers and fellow managers. and are aimed at increasing employee motivation. including supervisors and managers.e. employees are no longer involved in participation. and groups as well as concerns about conditions of employment.) in the workplace and which is capable of addressing a wide range of disputes.). include Open Door Policy. June). equitable and private forum to settle workplace disputes within a structured setting. Some of the more “innovative” forms of ADR which have been used successfully in non-union environments. anonymous complaints…in essence multi-issue complaints. where employees have an opportunity to meet with supervisors and managers to discuss issues without fear of retribution or . teammates. is of tantamount importance. multiple access points pertaining to ethnicity. (Webster. managers. Teamworking is another popular tool in the HRM and management arsenal – particularly within manufacturing and technology industries. etc. termination. The focus tends to be on problem-solving. have the required skills to function efficiently. Unfortunately. gender. Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). Establishing a grievance system which provides for various options (i. The primary purpose of ADR is to provide employers and employees with a non-discriminatory. executives. process or product line in an effort to increase efficiency and/or productivity.e. morale.) for all individuals (i. loyalty and commitment…QC programs are often confined to a specific task or project. and once this is completed. etc.

and Mediation/Arbitration (a hybrid solution where mediation is attempted first but give a neutral third party the authority to make a decision if mediation is not successful). it is. productivity will dip and the insidious root of employee apathy and discontent begin to take root within the organization. Peer Review. a panel of employees or a combination of employees and managers. morale will drop. thank you) that the best work place is not only just the . Nonbinding Arbitration (Pre-dispute: parties agree in advance to use arbitration but the decision is non-binding. what things would you try to change? Employers can often use sensing sessions to identify “hidden” issues of which management may have previously been unaware. Now they’ll have proof that no one cares. they will stop participating. when you work them. If employees sense that that these meetings are little more than venting sessions for management’s amusement. however. A more creative solution for tapping into your employees’ thoughts and motivations is Sensing Sessions (also known as “focus groups”). truth is. Arbitration. Post-dispute: parties agree to arbitrate unresolved issues but are not bound by the outcome). a neutral third person or team from outside the organization examines the facts of the complaint and presents them in a report. It’s a “12-Step Program” for organizations that want to stay union free and that truly believe (no lip service here. The purpose of the meetings is to seek answers to the following questions (Greve. Sensing sessions are typically held on a monthly basis (more often and it would seem like a therapy session) and involve randomly selected employees and an executive – usually someone outside of the participants’ reporting structure. 2010): • • • What do you like about working here? What don’t you like about working here? If you owned the company.THE SELLING OF AMERICA: BIG BUSINESS FIGHTS OFF BIG LABOR 25 retaliation (Wal-Mart implements this practice). is taking action based on the information and suggestions. Other more “traditional” routes of ADR include Mediation. The key. Sounds almost like a Twelve Step Program doesn’t it? Well. work together to resolve employee complaints (The Hyatt Hotel in Sacramento and GE are examples of companies that use this method successfully). Employee Involvement Programs work. Final and Binding Arbitration. and Fact-Finding.

if organizations employ “suppression” as a union avoidance strategy. it’s been told that one of them had an evil step-sister and the number “three” was somehow involved. Suppression: The Other Evil Twin Sup-what? That’s right. . hand-in-hand – to resolve its issues. Suppression as a union avoidance strategy lands in the middle road between an aggressive. “You think grandma was good enough to eat and now you want to negotiate meal penalties and a paid lunch. Unions are a lot like those fairytale characters – some are cute. just not one that will keep your employees happy and productive or money in your company (shareholders’) pockets. etc. buster. it often gives employers additional “insurance” (i. they would have “insurance.” Well.” Or. So what’s a poor little piggy supposed to do when the wolf comes knocking at the door? Or for that matter. suppression – if a person’s willing to play the game – can be a very effective strategy.) through delays and stall tactics that fall just this short of being illegal. Caucasian girl when bears come and attack her in the middle of a nice leisurely. Suppression is often subtle and very manipulative. employees are respected for their individuality. I don’t have to agree to nothin’.e. extra time to turn voters.I won’t accept your leaflet or your porridge. Nonetheless. some are thug-like but nonetheless they all manage to sneak up on person just when they think it’s safe to take a nap. or most efficient but one where diversity and innovation is cultivated and appreciated. blonde. too? No way. In fact. carve out bargaining unit to employer’s favor. and management and employees alike believe in working together – side by side. a frail. most profitable. they have “insurance”. “surface bargaining” to avoid a first contract. afternoon nap? Luckily for our fairytale characters. go to Grandma’s house or visit old Uncle Piggly Wiggly at the market.” too.THE SELLING OF AMERICA: BIG BUSINESS FIGHTS OFF BIG LABOR 26 most productive. Everyone’s heard the story about Goldilocks and the Three Bears or is it the Three Little Pigs? Three Blind Mice? Anyways. The kind of insurance that says. all-out assault and blind trickery. challenge elections. sometimes the tactics used are illegal. providing inexact information in response to the union’s request for an Excelsior list. “Don’t come knockin’ here….

THE SELLING OF AMERICA: BIG BUSINESS FIGHTS OFF BIG LABOR 27 Conclusion “Winning isn’t everything. the weapons are faster and more stealth. The High Road: A Winning Strategy for Managing Conflict and Communicating Effectively in Hospital Worker Campaigns. Union organizers are meeting employers head to head. among them: . Therefore. Email replaces handwritten letters. and slickly edited masterpieces wipe the floor clean with yesterday’s DVD. PowerPoint presentations replace posters. By using a positive (almost Pavlovan) reward system – the employer is able to “unlock” the three most basic and human motivational factors (fear. The handbook is based on a two-year study of experimental approaches to organizing hospital workers and reveals some surprising insights. is to stay on the ‘high road’ with a positive campaign. loyalty..decisions to join a union are primarily made for pragmatic rather than emotional reason. trust. employers can glean important lessons that can readily be applied in developing an effective anti-union campaign.” ~Vince Lombardi Taking a page from SEIU’s own organizing handbook for healthcare titled. The implementation of “advanced” strategies such as those discussed in this paper. even in situations where employer opposition is extremely intense. the most effective strategy for unions. it’s the only thing. productivity. it can be texted. and toe to toe in a bloody power struggle to dominate the human chess board that is corporate America. twittered or Facebooked in mere seconds. tools and strategies used by organizers in waging a corporate campaign. employee concerns about conflict outweigh their desire for a voice in their workplace. the author of this paper is fairly well acquainted with the tactics.e. If there’s a message to communicate. efficiency) from its employees. and the methods that organizers use to manage conflicts in an organizing campaign can dramatically influence the outcome. pragmatism and relevance) in order to elicit the “desired” behaviors and attitudes (i.. will produce a much . it is absolutely crucial that management use the most immediate and powerful resources it has at hand: its human capital. Having worked for and engaged in organizing efforts on behalf of a union prior to working in labor management.

but equally relevant to the study of labor relations. Most companies should ensure that their HRM program includes unionawareness training. In addition to the strategies outlined in this paper. labor and management have a cooperative and collaborative rather than adversarial relationship. Other strategies not discussed in this paper. the importance of union-avoidance training cannot be stressed enough. . The emphasis is on neutrality in a union campaign and the decision on whether or not to unionize is left undisturbed to the employees. studies have shown that the use of positive employee relations result in greater organizational efficiencies and employee satisfaction. is neutral or codified business-like strategy. if statistics are any indication.THE SELLING OF AMERICA: BIG BUSINESS FIGHTS OFF BIG LABOR 28 greater impact within the organization. usually adopted by organizations with existing unions in place. many employers are flummoxed when they find themselves in the middle of an organizing campaign. and finally. in an accommodation strategy. which will allow management at all levels to be well-attuned to the warning signs that signal employee dissatisfaction and impending unionization/organizing activities. However.

S. D. Retrieved from http://www. N. (2010. HighBeam Research. (1984). C. (n.aspx?articleID=1492 Greve. Embedding employee involvement and participation at work. Retrieved from http://truty. M.org/PDFs/Labor/OrganizingforQWL. recessionary rewards.pdf Fernandez. October 10). The Wall Street Journal.C. No holds barred: The intensification of employer opposition to organizing. 235. K.com/article. (2010). 16(3). Hewlett. N.epi. p.wsj. Statistical and Technical Information Report: Washington. EPI Briefing Paper.THE SELLING OF AMERICA: BIG BUSINESS FIGHTS OFF BIG LABOR 29 30 March 2010 References About The Economic Policy Institute. Ackerman Warehousing Forum. 2). (1989). J. 20 March 2010. April 1). 65. Boudette. (2009. para. 250-267. (2006). Eiger. Retrieved from http://www. Monthly Labor Review. Superintendent of Documents. Retrieved from http://en.org/pages/about_the_economic_policy_institute/ American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations. S. ‘Union avoidance:’ management’s new industrial relations strategy. Zagelmeyer. 1-21. Center for Union Facts. (2002. May 1. HR Magazine.wikipedia. December). 25(4). Human Resource Management Journal. Decertifying a union: the employer’s bill of rights..com Cox. P. (1986.org/wiki/Center_for_Union_Facts Chalykoff. & Cappelli. (2007. May 20).). International Relations Research Association).: AFL-CIO. Retrieved from http://highbeam. A. . March). Union free and staying that way. Retrieved from http://www. & Marchington. p. Creative.com Bronfenbrenner. Organizing for quality of working life. M.hotelinteractive.d.. (2009. (conference paper. Honda and UAW clash over new factory jobs.

United steelworkers.historycooperative. Retrieved from http://martinwebster.S. British union announce merger.org/stories/2008/06/16/unitedsteelworkers-british-union-announce-merger Hughes. Union free: a systematic approach. National Legal and Policy Center. O.org/pdf.info/2009/06/13/employee-participation. British Journal of Industrial Relations. perspective. Retrieved from http://www. TX: Center for Values Research.d. Retrieved from http://www. 97. p. December). J. Labor relations and you at the Wal-Mart distribution center #6022. G. Dallas. The union avoidance industry in the United States. November).html .counterpunch. Labor History. (1991.nlpc.mit. The Wal-Mart counter-revolution: A company that fears its own employees. M.html Webster. (2008. Logan.THE SELLING OF AMERICA: BIG BUSINESS FIGHTS OFF BIG LABOR 30 References Horowitz. Logan. Retrieved from http://web. A. September). Dispute resolution in the nonunion environment: An evolution toward integrated systems for conflict management.php? r=3597-1269893187-PDF-65-77094137407A2 Turl. Industrial Relations Journal. lawyers. and the ‘union free’ movement in the USA since the 1970s. p. (2002).org/turl02192010.). 198. Employee participation. Out of Bounds Magazine/Counterpunch. p. C.pdf Strauss.edu/ombud/publications/reso. Rowe. June 16). C.36. (2010. M. Retrieved from http://www. 664-665. Inc. 19-21 February). (n. (2009. Mason. Consultants. J. (2006. 44:4. (1984). June 13). 33:3. How many of these are anti-union practices: A U. 97. 2. (2009.

(2009. Center for Union Facts. OK: LRI Management Services. New study of NLRB data shows marginal employer misconduct in union organizing campaigns. March 4). Retrieved from http://laborpains. Esq. J. The next 52 weeks: One year to transform your work environment.org/2009/03/page/5. P.. Wilson. Broken Arrow. .THE SELLING OF AMERICA: BIG BUSINESS FIGHTS OFF BIG LABOR 31 References Wilson. (2004).

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