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Overview of Union Salting Tactics 9/9/2011

By: Ricardo Torres

Introduction

As a former high-ranking union official, I know first hand that union’s have many tactics, which they use in their attempts to organize new members. Salting, as a practice, is a fundamental tactic used by the unions, which haven’t changed much over the years. Union’s do adapt to different situations based on campaign needs. Depending on the circumstances and the “terrain” of the camping, operating a clandestine organizing drive (undercover) will usually be the best way to infiltrate the workforce with little to no resistance from management. After all, this is an extremely effective way to insert a “spy”, agitate issues and pull workers towards the union organizer. The Salt is someone implanted into an organization to create issues (or exasperate existing issues). Remember, the Salt is not looking for possible solutions to issues. The Salt is seeking to cause chaos and dissention within the workforce. This is their true purpose

What is Union Salting

Salting is the practice of sending in union members into a non-union workplace in an attempt to launch or propel an organizing campaign towards an election. This is very commonly done and is carried out with the intent of going unnoticed by the target company as a means of gathering information used to organize the workforce.

Another form of salting the workplace is when the union will send a member dressed in obvious union clothing to apply for a job. When the person is not interviewed and/or not hired, the union will file an unfair labor practice (ULP) with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

A third form of salting is when a large number of union members fill out applications clearly indicating union affiliations and organizing experience. The applications are returned with a demand for hire. When the applicants are not interviewed and/or not hired a ULP is filed with the NLRB.

Facts About Salting

  • Salting is considered to be protected activity ensuring the right of the workers to organize.
  • A salt may work at various levels within an organization (i.e. may be a rank & file worker or may be brought in at some sort of supervisory position. Note: There have even been cases where salts have worked in senior executive level positions).
  • The salt will keep some sort of daily log book to record inside activity
  • The salt will compile a list of employees and detailed job activities associated with the employees.
  • The salt will actively listen to employee concerns, gripes and grudges.
  • The salt will participate in concerted activities (i.e. be involved in the petition process).
  • The salt will actively search for unfair labor practices, wage/benefit deficiencies and code violations.
  • The salt will leave the job when the organizing campaign is over.

How a Salt Applies for a Position in the Targeted Company

  • A salt purposely will not wear union stickers, buttons, shirts, jackets, caps or anything else that could identify you as a Union Member or supporter.
  • A salt will not hesitate to badmouth the Union to the employer (A salt will never talk down the Union to coworkers).
  • A salt will avoid obvious references to Union jobs in your resume or application (as much as possible). If it’s obvious that a salt worked at a union company, he/she will be prepared to give a believable explanation as to he/she is looking for a non-union job.

How a Salt “Works” at the Targeted Company After Being Hired

  • The salt will be a well-trained listener. He/she will keep their eyes and ears open at all times, searching for ammunition to use in to organize the workforce.
  • A salt will work well, and make a good impression on both the employer and the coworkers.
  • A salt will identify the “informal leaders” in the workforce, and begin to form relationships with them to start the internal organizing committee.
  • A salt will make every attempt to obtain a list of every employee. If a list is not obtainable, they will begin to build their own. They will make a enormous effort in obtaining names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses as well as personal information on the employees and management alike.
  • The salt will write down useful information about their coworkers. They are looking for information on their job functions, skill levels, attitude towards management and attitude towards coworkers, union backgrounds/history etc.
  • The salt will try and get copies of company materials. Items like employee handbooks, memos, work rules, benefit information etc. are used against the company in union organizing efforts.
  • The salt will not tell the coworkers that they are a union member or a salt. They need to be seen as an ordinary worker supporting third-party representation.
  • A salt will not broach the subject of unionism with coworkers until the relationship is solid and they are sure that the conversation will not be cause for suspicion.

What a Salt Does If Fired From the Job

  • The salt will ask about the possibility of being rehired with witnesses present
  • The salt will ask about others being laid-off or fired, and who they are.
  • The salt will ask if they are being let go because they are a union supporter or ask if the termination was due to union activity.
  • The salt will report the termination to the union immediately.

Responsibilities of the Salt to the Union

The main job of a salt is to report their findings to the union organizer. The salt will provide the organizing staff with as much detailed information as possible.

  • The salt will make regular reports to the union (at least on a weekly basis if not more).
  • The salt will notify the union immediately upon receiving the job offer.
  • The salt will save all pay stubs and forward copies to the union.
  • The salt will keep a pocket memo pad or electronic note taking device (cell phone, iPod, iPad etc.) on his/her person at all times.
  • The salt will take detailed notations from the beginning of the process (the date he/she applied for work), including whom they spoke with and what was said.
  • The salt will take notes while working on the job.
    • They will not be obvious when taking notes
    • They will record information while it is fresh in their minds
    • They will write down names, addresses, email addresses, job duties, family information, license plate information, religious affiliations, hobbies, etc. of as many coworkers and members as management as possible.
  • The salt will gather information.
    • Company policies
    • Safety policies
    • Newsletters and Bulletins
    • Copies of time cards
    • Employee Lists
    • List of Jobs (and job openings)
    • Names of pro-union workers
    • Employee Complaints about pay, benefits, management, working conditions, discrimination, favoritism, nepotism, overtime, etc.
  • The salt will record the traits and habits of the owners and/or managers.
    • Expensive and lavish lifestyles
    • Personal problems
  • The salt will be on the lookout for violations of the National Labor Relations Act.
    • Did management ask about their union affiliations or whether they support the union during the interview?
    • Were they asked if they signed a union authorization card?
    • Did they witness workers being terminated, punished or discriminated against for engaging in legal union activities?
    • Did management ask about union business (who attended meetings, what was said, who was there)
    • Did management ever tell workers that there would be a loss of jobs because of a union?
    • Did management ever tell workers that organizing efforts would result in the loss of benefits?
    • Did management threaten to close the company to avoid the union?
    • Did management say that they will refuse to deal with the union?

    Staying out of the Union Salt’s Trapdoor

    • Be on guard for an applicant that has held many jobs in the past two years, which is the average lifespan of a salt working for the union.
    • Use caution with an applicant who goes out of their way to badmouth the union.
    • Be aware of an applicant who openly offers a negative opinion of their previous employer explaining why they left the left or as to why the previous employer would speak negatively about them.
    • When doing a background check and the previous employer only provides basic information (hire date, termination date and that they did work there) may indicate that the union negotiated a “Grey Letter” with the company.
    • Never allow applications to leave the office.
    • Be wary of someone who seems to know too much information about the company and the company officers.
    • If someone is trying to “not get hired” by saying good things about the unions or wearing union attire, don’t take the bait. Give them an interview and have a witness present.

    DOWNLOAD PDF VERSION OF OVERVIEW OF UNION SALTING TACTICS

    About Permanent Solutions Labor Consultants

    Permanent Solutions Labor Consultants is a full service Labor Relations and Human Resource consulting company who promotes positive employee relations as a means to create “permanent solutions” to close any gaps between management and the workforce. By closing these gaps, management teams will provide a workplace that is built with a “firewall” against third-party representation (i.e. unions).

    Founded by Ricardo Torres in 2001, Permanent Solutions utilizes a consultant base comprised of former union officials, union organizers and former HR executives who have proven themselves in union organizing situations with a history of positive outcomes.

    Permanent Solutions Labor Consultants
    23772 West Road
    Brownstown Township, MI 48183
    Phone: 313.218.0371
    Fax: 734.493.1568

    Web: www.pslabor.com

Contact Info

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23772 West Road, Suite 374
Brownstown Township, MI 48183
United States
t: 1.313.914.2017
f: 1.734.493.1568
e: WebInq@pslabor.com

South America

Carrea 77-Número 33 A 24 Torre Vicenzo #801
Medellin - Antioquia
Colombia

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