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By law, employers aren’t supposed to intimidate, coerce, or fire employees for exercising their democratic rights to form unions. Yet when faced with organizing drives, 25 percent of employers fire at least one pro-union worker.
Anti-union employers rarely go it alone – many seek the help of outside unionbusting consultants to stop workers from organizing a union, or to destroy one that’s already in place. Under the current labor law system, employers often use a combination of legal and illegal methods to silence employees who attempt to form unions and bargain for better wages and working conditions.
The failure of U.S. labor law to protect America’s workers from pervasive unionbusting is well-documented. Yet little attention has been paid to the practice of foreign companies operating in cooperation with their employees in their home countries, where labor laws are stronger, while failing to respect the rights of their workers in the United States. The same company, under two different systems of law, results in two very different situations for workers.
In a new report, the American Rights at Work Education Fund exposes a systematic campaign to prevent employees from forming a union by T-Mobile USA and its parent company, German telecommunications giant Deutsche Telekom (DT). The report, "Lowering the Bar or Setting the Standard? Deutsche Telekom’s U.S. Labor Practices," presents overwhelming evidence that DT is guilty of operating by a double standard: The company respects workers’ rights in Germany, where it cooperates closely with unions, but mistreats workers in the United States and interferes with their right to organize.
New findings from Dr. Kate Bronfenbrenner provide a comprehensive, independent analysis of employer behavior in union representation elections supervised by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Her research identifies the range and incidence of legal and illegal coercive tactics used by employers NLRB elections and the ineffectiveness of current labor law to protect and enforce workers’ rights during the process.
Dr. Bronfenbrenner’s report also compares employer
behavior in this study’s period to previous studies that she and her
research teams have conducted over the last 20 years.
» Fact Sheet
» Full Report (PDF: 366kb)
» Read the related press release
It is well-established that employers illegally fire workers for their support of a union in the United States. But what people may not realize is that for every worker fired, 395 coworkers receive the message: get involved with the union and you’ll get a pink slip.
Looking at how many workers, on average, in a workplace observe someone being fired for supporting a union reveals the real impact. The firing goes far beyond a lost job, vanished income, and workplace injustice for the individual worker—it can chill support for a union by instilling fear among coworkers that they too could lose their livelihood and economic well-being.
Every day men and women join unions in this country to improve their jobs and economic livelihood. Unfortunately, clever employers often interfere with their workers’ support for a union. As a result, anti-union employers fire pro-union workers in 34% of organizing campaigns.*
Adding insult to injury, fired workers discover incredible obstacles in attempts to reclaim their jobs due to a weak labor law system that favors employers. The workers who end up with an official ruling in their favor from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) represent only the tip of the iceberg of the thousands of workers fired each year for supporting a union. Rather than navigate a long and difficult process, too many fired workers end their pursuit of justice, however minimal, from the NLRB.
National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) elections are meant to provide workers with the opportunity to choose whether or not they want to join a union. Yet research confirms that too many employers are taking advantage of U.S. labor laws intended to protect workers’ rights to form unions. Aggressive misconduct from management widely prevents workers from exercising their choice. These findings indicate a serious need for reform of the NLRB-supervised union election process which typically skews in the favor of employers.
Erin Johansson examines the labor standards at Wal-Mart, including the poor compensation, difficult working conditions, and most importantly, the company’s ability to remain union-free, which is primarily the result of a companywide strategy to prevent and quash union efforts. Checking Out illustrates the devastating toll on workers and their communities as wages and benefits are slashed and once secure jobs are lost; the retail giant threatens to wipe out middle-class jobs and the American dream as we know it.
When is a FedEx worker not a FedEx employee? When it benefits the FedEx Corporation. In a new report, Fed Up with FedEx: How FedEx Ground Tramples Workers' Rights at Civil Rights, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and American Rights at Work document the widespread use of employee misclassification at FedEx Ground, which denies workers’ fundamental civil rights and workplace protections.
For decades, the telecommunications industry has provided technicians, customer service agents, operators, and others with job security, opportunities to advance and gain new skills, and sustainable wages and benefits. Yet since Verizon was formed in 2000, it has shirked its responsibilities as a public utility, pursuing a race-to-the-bottom, low-road business model that is detrimental to both employees and customers.
Our new report, Broken Promises, reveals how Verizon uses this model to interfere with its employees’ rights to form unions, putting good jobs and quality service at risk.
Management routinely coerces employees not to choose union representation. Freedom of association—the right of employees to join a union and bargain collectively—is theoretically guaranteed by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), the U.S. Constitution, and several international human rights agreements. However, as Human Rights Watch concluded in a 2000 report on U.S. compliance with international human rights standards, employees’ freedom of association in the United States is routinely violated through employer coercion.1
More effective remedies against employer coercion—like injunctive relief and monetary penalties—in the Employee Free Choice Act will help restore workers' freedom to form unions.
When Dean Singleton buys out a paper, he guts it: huge staff layoffs, lowered wages for remaining staff, and community beats eliminated. Then he buys more papers in the community and consolidates: combining staff positions so that one staff writes for 5-10 newspapers. Singleton also has a sophisticated strategy and record of breaking up unions at the newspapers under his ownership, and doing all he can to prevent his workers from having any control over their work and lives under MediaNews. Dean Singleton's media consolidation destroys a free and independent press and denies workers their rights.
Anyone who's a fan of the hit TV show "The Office" knows Dunder-Mifflin employees need a union - or something - to deal with their bumbling boss Michael. On a recent episode, the warehouse workers finally expressed the need for a union to improve their workplace. But when the corporate boss Jan found out about it, she illegally threatened employees that the Dunder-Mifflin plant would close and that they would lose their jobs if they formed a union
Jackson Lewis presents itself as a reputable "national workplace law firm," yet under its polished veneer lies a for-profit unionbuster. In fact, Jackson Lewis is one of the oldest and largest union avoidance law firms in the nation. Jackson Lewis counsels businesses on labor relations strategies that prevent unions from entering the workplace. By operating in the shadows of corporate unionbusting campaigns, the firm remains virtually unknown to the general public.
Findings from this new survey of workers’ opinions on union and employer coercion during card check campaigns and National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) elections reveal that claims of union pressure in card check campaigns are grossly exaggerated.
Authored by Adrienne Eaton, Ph.D. of Rutgers University, and Jill Kriesky, Ph.D. of Wheeling Jesuit University -
» Download the issue brief (PDF: 4 pages, 66 KB)
Exposing the harmful impact of Wal-Mart's low-cost, low-price business model is the subject of the recently released report "Wal-Mart's Sustainability Initiative: A Civil Society Critique." Twenty-three organizations, including American Rights at Work, reveal how the big box retailer's business model undermines the environment, communities, and workers.
Facts and Frequently Asked Questions about Unionbusting
Findings from this new report reveal that a majority of employers aggressively use both legal and illegal anti-union tactics during union representation elections, which impedes workers’ ability to form unions.
This report offers a comprehensive examination of the company’s abysmal labor standards, including an investigation into Wal-Mart’s unapologetic, systematic manner of aggressively interfering with its employees’ democratic right to form unions as a method to address their mistreatment. The study also demonstrates how Wal-Martization is eroding middle-class standards for workers in the grocery industry.
This report chronicles Comcast’s efforts to prevent and undermine workers from organizing new unions or successfully negotiating a contract on the terms and conditions of their employment.
» Download the report (PDF: 32 pages, 709 KB)
“The presence of secret ballots can’t overcome the corrupt nature of NLRB elections.”
"The most frightening aspect,...was to watch as one by one the outspoken 'troublemakers' were led out the door for poor performance, bad attitudes, and various other charges."
"Anti-union employers are making a mockery of the principles governing American elections. Weak labor laws allow anti-union employers to manipulate the outcome of union elections in a manner that is inherently unfair and undemocratic."
Let's face it. Something's wrong when CEOs rake in hundreds of times what their employees earn, and workers get the boot just for talking about unions. It could almost be a bad joke if it weren't such a serious problem.
That's why we teamed up with the award-winning producers at Brave New Films to make this video about a workplace where employees work without benefits, pay is based on favoritism, and the CEO is the only one with a contract.
After you watch, we hope you take a minute to sign our petition for the Employee Free Choice Act.
This video shows what the Employee Free Choice Act is all about. Originally produced for SEIU at their international convention last month, this 8-minute movie explains what the Employee Free Choice Act is, why we need it, and who it'd help. If you've got eight minutes, sit back, press play, and pass on this video to friends and family.
According to Garth Brooks, "it's great to work for Wal-Mart." But what would happen if Garth found out what it's really like to work for the retail giant? What would he have to say about Wal-Mart's ruthless campaign against workers' rights?
The ongoing discovery phase of a malpractice case against workplace law giant Jackson Lewis offers an extraordinary inside look at a well-financed and all-too-common attack against workers who attempt to form unions. The New York Times published a feature story on the lawsuit in December 2004.
American Rights at Work is a nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to promoting the freedom of workers to organize unions and bargain collectively with employers.
» Learn about our broken labor laws with an example from TV's "The Office."