Intelligence operations

Either side is likely to perform better during confrontations if it is well-informed, or if it can place operatives in key positions. Corporations have frequently resorted to seeking intelligence on union activities, often by employing informants, labor spies, and saboteurs.“ The management plant is a standard presence at union-organizing meetings. Their job is manifold; disrupt the meeting so the union can’t talk strategy; take the focus off workplace problems by turning the questions on the union; intimidate union sympathizers; report back to management. Of course, if the anti-union workers are acting as spies, [federal labor law] makes that patently illegal, but big deal. It’s almost impossible to prove. ”

Martin Jay Levitt, 1993, Confessions of a Union Buster[16]

Some actions of operatives are prankish, yet cruelly effective. In 1980, union buster Martin Jay Levitt conducted a counter-organizing drive at a nursing home in Sebring, Ohio. He assigned confederates to scratch up cars, then blamed it on the union. The deed occurred as part of a campaign to portray the union as a threat to nursing home residents. Creating — then systematically exploiting — a prolonged climate of fear was key to destroying the union’s credibility.[17]

Intelligence gathering may be ingenious and deceptive. The week before a union election, the labor consultant may announce an innocent-sounding election-week pool among managers and supervisors. Each person contributes a dollar, with the possibility of winning a one hundred dollar prize, by recording the number of “no” votes they’re predicting for the union election. The consultant now has a barometer of confidence from all participants. Those who predict a lower number of “no” votes may reflect areas of the workforce into which the union avoidance campaign can pour resources in the days just prior to the election. While participants are likely to view such a poll as nothing more sinister than a sports pool, in reality it circumvents labor laws that prohibit management from conducting straw votes among employees during an organizing drive.[18]
Legal obstruction

Labor consultants are experts at using rules and regulations to thwart an organizing drive. Delays and jurisdictional changes may be sought to obstruct union plans for a quick and straightforward campaign. If the union focuses on one division of the company, lawyers may disrupt such plans and dilute the vote by petitioning the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to include other divisions. If the union seeks to include foreman or “junior supervisor” positions in the bargaining unit, union busting lawyers may file on that issue. Even the jurisdiction of the NLRB to oversee an organizing drive may be challenged in order to provide management with more time to undermine the union effort. Protracted delays could turn the organizing campaign into a war of attrition, and such battles are almost always won by management.[19]

If the organizing struggle can be made to last long enough, it demonstrates to workers that the union is not in control and they will lose faith in the process. In one delaying effort a lawyer hired a photographer to take thousands of photographs of a factory, purportedly to show that the voting unit was improperly defined. Each photo was introduced into evidence individually, a tedious process that took days.[20]
Favoritism and division“ …as the consultants go about the business of destroying unions, they invade people’s lives, demolish their friendships, crush their will, and shatter their families. ”

Martin Jay Levitt, 1993, Confessions of a Union Buster[2]

Consultants may direct management to establish “Vote No” committees of pro-company employees charged with the responsibility of rewarding loyal workers. Such workers may find themselves showered with special favors, extra time off, free T-shirts and caps with the “Vote No” slogan, and other bonuses. Pro-union workers are forced to undergo ever-tighter scrutiny, and are confronted with scurrilous rumors spread by the anti-union campaign. Whenever the union attempts to hold constructive meetings of potential union members, a group of anti-union employees may be sent by union busting consultants with instructions to disrupt the meeting and put the union on the defensive. The anti-union employees might shout and sneer, or ask hostile, misleading questions. Some of them may be tasked with jotting down profuse notes whenever someone speaks to make pro-union workers uncomfortable. The company gains from any divisions or animosity created by such tactics, for the union can be blamed for driving “a wedge of hate into a once unified work force.”[21]

[From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]


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