Exposing union-busters open thread

In the course of my research for my piece on organizing online workers yesterday, I discovered this lovely company: Projections, Inc., Makers of Fine Union-Busting Web-sites.  Here's a gem from one of their "products and services" pages:

Role-Play - Using actors to portray employees, your workforce "overhears" conversations dealing with the actual topics that concern them. Used early in the process, The Custom Role-Play is particularly effective at capturing the emotions that play into every campaign.


I'm working on a piece about how unions can organize online, to help counter-act union-busters like this.  If you've got some thoughts, feel free to chip in in the comments.

Besides that, this is an open thread.  Step right up and speak your mind.

Tags: labor movement, union-busters (all tags)



Re: Exposing union-busters open thread

Thanks for bringing up this topic, Shai.

John Logan, a professor in the Industrial Relations Department at the London School of Economics and Political Science, analyzed the $4 billion/year union busting business and found that management increasingly is hiring anti-union consultants with less concern about doing so. Logan finds that until the 1970s, union-busting consultants were relatively few--only about 100 firms in the 1960s, compared with more than 10 times that number in the mid-1980s.
(more here at firedoglake http://www.firedoglake.com/index.php?s=u nion+busters
in a shameless plug for a post I wrote).

The big bucks in the union busting would decrease a lot if the Employee Free Choice Act was law. The bill passed the House in March and the Senate will vote on it in the next day or two.
More here on the bill: http://www.aflcio.org/joinaunion/voiceat work/efca/

and hope everyone can take a minute to tell their Senators to vote for the bill here
http://www.aflcio.org/joinaunion/voiceat work/efca/whatyoucando.cfm

by Tula Connell 2007-06-24 01:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Exposing union-busters open thread

I remember that post!  It was very interesting.  I've been thinking about the union-busting industry ever since.  I think there are a lot of things unions can do to organize online and to counter-act union busting.

I also have a pet theory that there are a lot of employers who might be "persuadable" on the topic of union-busting.  That is, there are a number of employers who would be willing to listen to something like a union cooperation expert, who could help them work with a union to maximize profits while improving working conditions, or something like that.  I'd even venture a guess that union cooperation could become its own little cottage industry.  But, I think it's more or less wishful thinking.

by Shai Sachs 2007-06-24 03:17PM | 0 recs
Persuading corporations to work with labor

Shai, you should definitely read "A Country that Works" by SEIU president Andy Stern.  He discusses how the SEIU tries to organize entire industries in a given area as opposed to singling out one company at a time (the idea being that if you raise all the wages simultaneously then the companies won't fear being rendered uncompetitive by having the only union contract in town)  He also talks about building "labor management partnerships" (LMP's for short) once the unit has been organized to help the unionized businesses succeed.  An example of this would be the "LMP" between Kaiser Permanente and the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions.

Of course many of these ideas are highly controversial within the labor movement because it really go against the class warfare aspect of labor union culture.  I think there are both good and bad aspects to Stern's approach.  Either way it's some food for thought!

by Jambon 2007-06-24 05:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Persuading corporations to work with labor

I did read this book, actually, and like you, I found it highly interesting.  Perhaps the part that was most interesting was the constellation of tactics that he and John Sweeney pioneered in organizing an entire industry - the combination of neutrality agreements, trigger clauses, and card check organizing.  Masterful stuff.  I'm curious whether it's still working out well for them, because for the most part what I hear about on sites like LabourStart is SEIU's victories in getting some large employer or another to agree to neutrality, or for SEIU to win representation for some large group of public-sector workers.  Exciting stuff certainly, but is it the result of trigger agreements?  Are they actually succeeding in organizing entire industries?  I don't know.

Sometime soon, hopefully in a week or two, I'll also elaborate on a blog post I did years ago, a book review of Prof. Ellen Dannin's book Taking Back the Worker's Law.  There have been some interesting updates on that, and in light of the Senate's inability to pass EFCA, I think it's important that we look into other avenues to strengthen NLRA.

by Shai Sachs 2007-06-27 04:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Exposing union-busters open thread

Great job Shai exposing these corporate suck-up whores! Don't worry, Jesus has a special place in hell for these Georgia freeper creeps!

by wlb 2007-06-24 02:23PM | 0 recs
Re: Exposing union-busters open thread

Any great union blogs out there?  I'd love some suggesionts

by Melissa Ryan 2007-06-24 02:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Exposing union-busters open thread

Well, there's AFL-CIO and Change to Win, for starters (and plenty of internationals have their own blogs.)  There's Working life, which seems to focus much more on politics than on issues within the labor movement.  They have a diary section too.  There's also LabourStart, which is an excellent news source about goings-on within the labor movement generally.  And American Rights at Work, while it doesn't publish a blog, does have a pretty good "news clips" feed.

Have fun!

by Shai Sachs 2007-06-24 03:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Exposing union-busters open thread

Though it isn't an active blog I've long been a fan of YouAreWorthMore.org which is run by UFCW Local 789 out of St. Paul, Minnesota.  They actually have a Union Rep that answers questions from anyone who posts one the website!  This tiny little local union also started up a website for Target workers and for Borders Books employees (though the IWW took over the Borders site apparently).  I know several other national unions have sites devoted to organizing drives and corporate campaigns but they are typically NOT community orientated like the sites above.    

I'd really like to see the AFL-CIO and the CTW Federation build some sort of an online community.   The blogs are a good first step (the AFL blog JUST RECENTLY started allowing comments) but not nearly enough.  It would be nice to have a message forum and a diary community as well.  Unfortunately, the labor movement has an institutional history that includes squelching dissent and controlling the message which is why I think you see such a resistance to transparency and online communities on their own websites.      

by Jambon 2007-06-24 05:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Exposing union-busters open thread

You might want to check out PurpleOcean.org, which includes diaries and comments as you suggested.  Unfortunately, it seems like it's not used much.  Also, last I checked I couldn't get a single united feed for all the blog posts, which was a bit irritating.

by Shai Sachs 2007-06-27 04:56AM | 0 recs
Re: Exposing union-busters open thread
I'd really like to see the AFL-CIO and the CTW Federation build some sort of an online community. The blogs are a good first step (the AFL blog JUST RECENTLY started allowing comments) but not nearly enough.
I'm the online organizer for Change to Win. What would such a community look like? I'd love to hear what MyDD readers think we should be doing to better engage the online community. My ears are open :)
by jalefkowit 2007-06-25 06:19AM | 0 recs
Re: Exposing union-busters open thread

Thanks for joining us here!

One thing you could do is somehow incorporate PurpleOcean into the Change to Win site, or replicate that functionality in a high-profile way.  As I mentioned above, it's a great site with good features, it just needs some attention and a bit more promoting.

Perhaps unrelated to this, check out my recent post on The Front Door of the Labor Movement.  A brief survey of some prominent union sites showed that the "Join a union" section was generally not user-friendly or helpful to potential members who might want to join a union.  Over at Communicate or Die, Matt Noyes pointed me to the UE page, which, while not graphically slick or very technologically high-end, is my idea of a really good "Join us" page.

by Shai Sachs 2007-06-27 05:01AM | 0 recs
Re: Exposing union-busters open thread
Oh, and thanks to Shai for helping get these important issues out in the public eye!
by jalefkowit 2007-06-25 06:24AM | 0 recs
Re: Exposing union-busters open thread
UnionFacts.com is one of the nastiest, dirtiest, meanest--and prettiest--anti-union sites out there. I would argue that we have nothing comparable on the Left to refute their anti-union propaganda. The labor movement really has a responsibility to run a separate union facts page, without the confusion of affiliation. In general, folks don't make the distinction between the labor movement and its affiliates, and in the propaganda war, neither should we. My .02.
by Stephanie Taylor 2007-06-25 07:02AM | 0 recs
Re: Exposing union-busters open thread

I agree - UnionFacts is pretty despicable.  They have a very generous PR budget, which is probably the main reason they've got such a high profile.

You make a good point about having a pro-union site which is not union-affiliated in the same way - I think that undoubtedly would be a useful resource.  One thing I worry about, though, is that without a good PR budget, that kind of effort might not get the kind of traction that the center for union facts got.  I suppose they could operate under the radar by purchasing Google ad words and things like that, though.

by Shai Sachs 2007-06-27 05:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Exposing union-busters open thread

My post today is in a similar vein - only partially about actual union organizing and union busting, but very much about how a group of workers is using social networks to organize around labor conditions:
http://www.mydd.com/story/2007/6/25/8331 3/1161

Cross-posted from:

by maggiemead 2007-06-25 07:13AM | 0 recs
Re: Exposing union-busters open thread

I thought this post was very interesting, and when I do get around to writing up my "Organizing workers online" post, I'll certainly reference it.  Sounds like your effort was very successful - though it's too bad you eventually got banned.  I'm curious though: why not try and organize on MySpace?  They have a less restrictive policy about pseudonymous usernames.

Thanks for the post!

by Shai Sachs 2007-06-27 05:04AM | 0 recs


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