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Dumpster Diving

Turning Trash into Gold

Most people try to separate work from family. It’s one of those things that most Americans have trouble doing. We all know that it is important to keep work where it belongs, at work. This, of course, was not the case for me. I actually used people’s families to my advantage in order to succeed in heated union campaigns. I sat in front of worker’s homes in the middle of the night. I knew what school’s my potential ‘victims’ children attended. But there is one event that will forever be in my mind.

Ricardo Torres President & CEO - PSLC

10/16/2009

Most people try to separate work from family. It’s one of those things that most Americans have trouble doing. We all know that it is important to keep work where it belongs, at work. This, of course, was not the case for me. I actually used people’s families to my advantage in order to succeed in heated union campaigns. I sat in front of worker’s homes in the middle of the night. I knew what school’s my potential ‘victims’ children attended. But there is one event that will forever be in my mind. I actually was able to use someone else’s deception to my advantage. Let me explain.

Dumpster diving was a tactic I used in the past, and I will get to that. Let me start by explaining that when my staff and I had work to be done and pending elections in various locations, we would set up rooms, sometimes in hotels, or makeshift conference rooms. We called them “war rooms”, but this was just a place where we could meet and organize strategy for our various plans of action and at this point we considered ourselves at war with the company. So when my task was to organize a factory in a small Midwest town, I set up a “war room” in a local hotel and we went to work.

Imagine for a moment the town in which I speak of was a small farming town, very small population, with one huge factory. Everyone in the town knows each other. They attend the same church, belong to the same social groups and are heavily involved in the community. If the Smith’s buy a new car, everyone knows it. This was the kind of place where your neighbors are your best friends and nobody ever moves. The owner of the factory that I mentioned was a family, church-going man, who was extremely active in his community. Half of the town was employed by him and sang his praises to an extreme. He could do no wrong. My task was going to be extremely difficult with these people. I would have to quiet them. And I needed heavy ammunition.

I had my staff do a dumpster dive at his factory, which is exactly what you would think it is. And I don’t mean the dumpster diving that has become somewhat of a pop culture trend in big cities for recycling junkies. They had one mission. They went to the factory after hours and literally went through all of the dumpsters looking for anything incriminating they could get their hands on; social security numbers, bank statements, time sheets, memos etc. I needed to find ammo, and would take it in any form. I needed to find something to make him or his company look bad.

Dumpster diving was not the prettiest job, but my organizers knew it was their job. Unfortunately, their choices were limited also. My organizers were compensated well, but really had no choice. All of the trash was brought back to the war room, and sifted through for hours. To my incredibly shocking surprise, and after searching through mountains of trash, we hit the jackpot. We uncovered “love letters” from the plant owner to a female employee (mistress). This find was more than I could have ever hoped for.

As you could probably imagine, this is not the news you would want the organizer to get hold of. He had been so resistant to my presence in his town, he wanted us out. He knew he had the backing of his people, but now we had his undivided attention and his people were listening to us!

My strategy was precise. I needed to discredit this man to his employees, and he handed that to me on a platter. Discrediting him would send his employees right to me. I knew what they would think. Since they could no longer trust him as the family man and upstanding community leader he had portrayed, how could they trust him to be a fair and just employer? And now, only the union could help them. Now, the topics weren’t going to be about strikes or layoffs. Now all “conversations” were about the character of this man they used to admire. I got them off topic, and redirected them completely.

This was a masterpiece and some of my best of work. We made copies of the letters and mailed them to community leaders and his executive board. We sent them to his wife, his employees, and his church. We even sent them to local businesses that worked with him. Mission accomplished! He was discredited and his reputation destroyed. His employees ran to me and the theme was this: If he lied to and deceived his wife and kids what would he do to you, the same without the kiss! The election went on as planned.

This man could have been elected mayor of this town before I arrived in this small town. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out for him. Actually, I don’t know what ever became of him. I do know that I organized his entire factory and then I left town victorious without looking back. And guess what, I really didn’t care what happened to him; in fact I wanted to destroy him. That was my job. That was my mission and that was my belief. If someone’s reputation was damaged so be it. I won the election! That was all that mattered…VICTORY BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY!!