Confessions of a Union Organizer

"You Can't Always Get What You Want"

"You Can't Always Get What You Want"

In Union Alliances

Listening to the Rolling Stones last week reminded me of an alliance forged between the California Nurses Association (CNA) and the United Steelworkers (USW). While the USW wouldn't get what they wanted, the CNA surely got what they needed.

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Hotel California

Hotel California

Livin' it up at the Hotel, bringing their alibis and stabbing with their steely knives. Once unions are in, you can checkout, but they will never leave.

Unions historically had a difficult time organizing hotel- and associated service-workers, despite the fact that they are generally paid lower wages and work with higher demands than most other workers. They have a lower level of sophistication when it comes to fighting management without union assistance, but they comprise one of the most resourceful and ready-to-fight categories of non-unionized workers. Bad management have no one but themselves to blame in many situations as they have become complacent in their mistreatment of employees. The ample supply of low-skilled workers feed both of these issues as managers can quickly and easily replace any employee who even appears to be organizing.

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Organizing on the Killing Floor

Organizing on the Killing Floor

In my past, I worked as a high-ranking union official and National Organizing Director within the union machine. Back then; we would set our sights on the easiest targets to quickly raise our membership levels. There were many circumstances that factored into our decision of whether or not to accept an organizing request from the employees. It could have been an issue involving layoffs in a facility, changes in benefits, regional politics, and safety issues. Sometimes these issues were a concern throughout an entire industry.

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Could the NLRA become a Pro-Union Manifesto?

Could the NLRA become a Pro-Union Manifesto?

Exploring Captive-Audience Meetings from a Union Organizer's Perspective

This is a companion piece to our recent InsideEdge newsletter of the same title. That piece examines a recent pro-union, "equal opportunity" gag rule petition that 106 professor and academics submitted to the NLRB that would force employers to pay for the privilege of letting the union communicate with their employees.

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Under the Bus

Under the Bus

The Truth about Union Solidarity

Lately, I have been reading about union “solidarity” in the newspaper and watching several news stories claiming that public unions have come together to aid union protesters in Egypt. Several union leaders have credited themselves with the fall of the Egyptian government. Also, I was reviewing a recent guest “Confessions of a Union Organizer” in one of our own newsletters written by Calvin Hullett, a former police officer who was a hero to the Teamsters one day and thrown into the union recycling bin as “collateral damage” the next which inspired me to write a little about union “solidarity” from an insider’s perspective.

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Warehousing Anger

Warehousing Anger

Now that the holiday gift-giving season is past, we would like to take a few minutes to recognize and examine the companies and workers who make it possible: warehousing hubs and distribution centers. Please read on to see how labor views these groups and some of the tactics they employ to drive a wedge between management and workers.

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All about "the Numbers"

All about "the Numbers"

Labor's Definition of Winning

In the 1990's, the United Steelworkers (USW) decided to change history in the way they approached organizing in culturally diverse workforces. One example of how difficult it was to organize these areas was the UAW's push to organize Mexican Industries, a large auto supplier in the Detroit metropolitan area. In the 90's, the UAW fought two unsuccessful campaigns in which the employees ultimately chose to maintain their union-free privileges and sent the UAW packing after wasting large amounts of money in their failed organizing attempts. As an International Director of Organizing, Ricardo Torres developed a detailed plan for the USW to accomplish the goal of infiltrating culturally diverse areas. To do this, the USW gambled on a strategy that the UAW failed to use, and organized a large number of culturally diverse workers who felt discontent with the unions. It was a successful new strategy that unions continue to use to this day.

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High-Energy, Quickie Elections Redux

High-Energy, Quickie Elections Redux

The highly anticipated (and feared) changes to long-standing labor laws appear to finally be upon us. Read on to see why you need to ensure that you have an effective union avoidance strategy in place.

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Fast Food Heaven for Labor Unions

Fast Food Heaven for Labor Unions

In attempt to replenish declining membership, the AFL/CIO, SEIU and other traditional unions have begun partnering with so-called 'alt-labor' worker centers to target restaurant workers and other traditionally non-organized employees. Read on to find insight into how the recent fast food strikes are part of the unions' tactics to work with these groups to attack and destabilize small business franchisees in order to grow membership.

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Organizing in Healthcare

Organizing in Healthcare

Taking Advantage of Exposed Pressure Points

For those who have read Confessions before, you already know that I spent many years serving as an Organizing Director with the Teamsters and Steelworkers and have written about how I was the conductor in an orchestra of chaos during campaigns. The campaigns that were the most fun (before I was on your side) were organizing workers in a hospital environment. There were so many sensitive pressure points that we would make jokes behind closed doors about how we would get hospital leadership to bow down to our demands.

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The Future of the Democratic Party and Big Labor

The Future of the Democratic Party and Big Labor

Despite Democratic politicians' lack of fidelity to big labor, unions are still forced to support them. Major changes this election cycle, however, have redirected funding away from the national level, as unions focus more and more on the state and local levels.

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High-Energy, Quickie Elections

High-Energy, Quickie Elections

On April 30th, the National Labor Relations Board will announce the highly anticipated changes to current labor laws in place. For the last 50 years, the National Labor Relations Act has remained virtually the same. This month will mark a historic day in labor law, and redefine how employers and employees will interact in the scope of Union presence.

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