The Center for Union Facts is an anti-union group launched by Richard Berman, the executive director of the Center for Consumer Freedom, a food industry lobby group. The group has spent millions of dollars on advertising campaigns, including advertisements featuring “actors posing as workers” stating what they ‘love’ about unions, like paying dues, union leaders’ “fat-cat lifestyles,” and discrimination against minorities.
The Center for Union Facts maintains an anti-union website that provides financial and other records about unions.
On February 14, 2006, the New York Times reported that,
Mr. Berman runs a public affairs firm in Washington and helped to create the American Beverage Institute and the Employment Policies Institute, which has helped the restaurant industry fight increases in the minimum wage.
The first guide to modern union busting
Nathan Shefferman published The Man in the Middle, a 292-page account of his union busting activities, in 1961. Shefferman described a long list of practices which he viewed as tangential to — but which were really support operations for — union avoidance activities. Among these were the administration of opinion surveys, supervisor training, incentive pay procedures, wage surveys, employee complaint procedures, personnel records, application procedures, job evaluations, and legal services. As part of his union busting strategies, all of these activities were performed with the goal of maintaining complete control of the work force by top management. Shefferman’s book not only provided the concepts that animated all future union busting techniques, he also provided language that disguised the real intent of these activities.“ We have Shefferman to thank, perhaps more than anyone else, for the development of a magnificently insidious doublespeak that persists in labor management theory to this day. The language of employee relations as articulated by Shefferman and the thousands he influenced masks a fundamental distrust of workers and a view of management as defenders of the crown, with words and schemes that seem to promote the opposite. ”
Martin Jay Levitt, 1993, Confessions of a Union Buster
As one example of Shefferman’s practices, the book advised management to institute a device called an employee roundtable. It was presented to workers as a way to air their grievances. Its real purpose was allowing management to tap into the worker grapevine, and to exercise management control over the informal worker power structure. The employee roundtable gave management a means to directly plant its information into the workforce, and a method of identifying and controlling leaders among the employees. The roundtable is presented as a method for employees to complain without fear of reprisal. In reality such a forum serves management’s interests more than the interests of the workers. By continually changing the membership of the employee group, management could prevent any coalescense of worker power, and could monitor complaints and rumors circulating in different departments. Supervisors were trained to identify and analyze power relationships among their subordinates, in order to control the attitudes and behavior of the whole group. “The goal was to foster cooperation between employees and management, not among the employees themselves.”
Impact of globalization on unions
World globalization has had a considerable impact on unions, resulting in the offshoring of factories and jobs; devastation of the manufacturing base in many industrialized nations, sometimes referred to as deindustrialization; an acceleration in corporate mergers and acquisitions; and changing immigration patterns. All of these developments offer opportunities for employers to shed their unions.