Anti-Union Tactics

Union Busting has become a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States over the last thirty years. Knowledge is power, and this video is offered in order to help prepare you for the psychological warfare that most employers wage against their workers during a typical union election.

The following video features Martin Levitt, a former Management Consultant — Also Known As a “Union Buster”. In this video, Mr. Levitt briefly explains some of the tactics he used to defeat workers during a unionizing drive.



Typical Company Anti-Union Tools:

Companies have access to a wide variety of anti-union material from many sources, but the message is always the same. The typical anti-union campaign has a timeline of activities where you can expect confusion, coercion and intimidation to keep workers from unionizing. They tell lies and spread misinformation about the IAM every step of the way to try and convince workers that forming a union is a bad idea. Typically employers say thing like: “We will close down and move elsewhere if the union gets in here” or “We will go out of business if the union negotiates wage and benefit levels we can’t afford”. All this rhetoric is designed to make workers have second thoughts, while the Union Busters charge outrageous fees that could have gone to the workers. It is amazing the lengths employers will go to keep their workplace “union free”. Union Busters go to the edge or break the law just to test the resolve of the workers, and rarely do employers follow through on their implied threats to curtail operations. Know your rights, take notes and keep copies of company propaganda and implied threats. Good documentation is very helpful should the IAM need to file Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charges against the employer for unlawful activity. It is not necessary to respond to the employer’s anti-union rhetoric — staying positive and staying focused is the best course of action workers can take when forming a union. If you have any issues or concerns you need addressed, feel free to call or email one of our organizing staff members.

Typical Company Tactics (based on a six week election cycle*):

* The NLRB election cycle was shortened dramatically in 2015. Employers now compress this six week anti-union campaign into two weeks.

Week 1 – Get Supervisors involved

Companies will usually start introducing the company’s position on unions. Keeping companies “union free” is big business in America. Books, videos, seminars and consultants all aid employers in their attempts to convince you that staying “union free” is in your best interest.

“Union Busters”

The “Union Avoidance” industry, a term heavily used by employers, employs more than 10,000 lawyers and consultants. They are usually called in the moment a company hears that employees are interested in unionizing.

Week 2 – Job Security

For the first week of the campaign, management has prepared its front line troops, the supervisors. Preparation is over and the ground work is laid. Management is ready to begin its all-out assault. By this time you have probably received at least one handbill/love letter from the company.

Focus on the second week shifts to the first of several issues that you will be hammered with over the coming weeks. Job security is usually one of the first issues given, playing on the potential fear created through the idea of economic insecurity.

Week 3 – Collective Bargaining

The general goal this week is to convince you that you will receive less under a union contract than you already have. You may begin to hear things like “you start from zero when negotiating a contract and you may end up with less than you have already”. Or they may say you’ll start from a “scratch”.

Department of labor statistics show that unionized workers have better wages, better benefits and better working conditions than non-union workers.

Week 4 – Direct Assault on the IAM

What is more intimidating than direct assaults to your personal security? During the campaign management will try to create an atmosphere under which you and your co-workers become fearful of the union. Attempts will be made to make you believe that vandalism and intimidation are what the union is about. These attempts are usually carried out using two themes: Vandalism of personal property and threats and intimidation of your co-workers.

Week 5 – Strikes

One of the most effective tools in a union buster’s arsenal is fear of strikes. Managers and supervisors are advised to hammer this issue as often as possible in order to conjure images of personal insecurity but economic insecurity as well.

Let’s unravel the myth of strikes. Although the company would love for you to believe that you can be “called out on strike”, the Machinists Union requires that 2/3 majority vote of the membership in order to strike. During the past 10 years, IAM negotiators won fair agreement without loss of a minutes work in over 99% of our contracts. In fact, more people in the U.S. miss work due to the common cold than because of strikes!

Week 6 – The “Final Push” and the “Sympathy Plea”

Now it is the last week of the campaign. This is the employer’s last chance to convince you that a union would not be in your best interest. Time is running out and for the employer, and desperate times require desperate measures. During the week your employer will review each of the topics already discussed. Letters mailed to your home or all hands meetings will occur almost every day of the week of the election. The CEO will often make a personal appearance, even if it means traveling great distances, in order to make a teary-eyed plea for a “second chance”. The CEO will say they didn’t know how bad things had become, and they will promise to fix everything if the workers will vote “NO” on election day. Nothing could be further from the truth! The company has no intentions of fixing anything — it’s all smoke and mirrors designed to take advantage of their employee’s good nature for their own greedy self interests.

In spite of these ruthless tactics, workers win union representation elections every day in our country. How do they do it? By staying informed and sticking together. Fear is a very powerful emotion, and that’s why the employer will use fear as a weapon against the workers during a union election. But fear cannot prevail when the workers are educated. The only legal way for workers to affect change in the workplace is through unionizing and collective bargaining. Don’t let fear and complacency stop you from enjoying a higher standard of living. Contact us today. Together we can make your workplace a better place to work.