Confessions of a Union Organizer

Redemption through Pain

Redemption through Pain

In January of this year, Hostess filed for bankruptcy, just three years after emerging from their previous bankruptcy with ninety-three billion dollars in sales. This is compelling news, especially since the Teamsters are threatening to strike Hostess while in their weakened condition. The union is refusing to accept concessions as the company is trying to negotiate to maintain the ability to operate and show profitability. In essence, the Teamsters are willing to take Hostess to the brink of destruction and beyond if they don’t get what they want.

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Working From The Inside Out

Working From The Inside Out

As I wait for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to come back with a decision on how they are going to change the union election process I have been pondering my former years as a union official and the tactics I would deploy when running campaigns from the national level. I recall when I was an Organizing Director for the United Steelworkers (USW) and accepted a challenge to organize mini-mills. We were losing members in the larger “full service” steel mills (integrated steel mills) with a vast amount of foreign made steel coming into the country.

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Aug 2011: No Time Limit

Aug 2011: No Time Limit

How to Organize an Entire Hospital

As I sat at my desk writing my thoughts about the proposed changes to the union election process in a letter to the National Labor Relations Board in order to put my objections into public record, I began reflecting on the time I testified to Congress (Kennedy/Miller Committee) with regards to the Employee Free Choice Act (H.R. 800). During my testimony I was asked how the speed of a union election is beneficial to the employee voting for representation.

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The Union Pressure Plan

The Union Pressure Plan

Pressure Tactics that Force You to Defeat by Design

I recently wrote about how unions are becoming more aggressive and using tactics like NLRB approved bannering campaigns and have been paying close attention to union sponsored political recalls, boycotts, and striking for recognition. The media is reporting these events like they are revolutionary tactics. In spite of UAW’s President Bob King proclamation to play nice with foreign automakers, the UAW wants to organize. They will organize unless the foreign automakers (targets) try to resist their attempts.

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How Unions Indirectly Coerce Immigrant Workers Through The Federal Government

How Unions Indirectly Coerce Immigrant Workers Through The Federal Government

As a Hispanic professional, I have been paying close attention to the mix of labor news and immigration news recently. I have realized that unions are making immigration reform part of their platform for “a better workforce” in America. Having worked as a union organizer early in my move to the U.S., I know exactly what the unions think about immigrant workers. To the union’s, immigrant workers are a “low hanging fruit” in their organizing efforts. They use immigration status as a tool to coerce and intimidate workers into signing cards.

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Closed for Business

Closed for Business

I recently read with interest about the Tavern on the Green restaurant (a New York City landmark) which was forced to cease operations during contract negotiations with the New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council union (AFL-CIO). The owner, Dean Poll, owns another restaurant in Central Park called the Boathouse. Poll leases both restaurants from the city and currently is faced with the same union as they are currently trying to organize workers at the Boathouse.

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Common Enemy

Common Enemy

If the unions truly want to unite to gain membership and power they need a common enemy. The union leadership has known for many years that the future of the union movement lies at with the younger generation. During the IMF protest in the U.S., the AFL/CIO was holding meetings with college students to tap into their energy in order to redirect their efforts to help the labor movement.

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Public Sector Union Leaders and Their Agenda

Public Sector Union Leaders and Their Agenda

Rise to Power… Fall from Power – The Union Sell Out

As the debate about public sector unions heats up we are hearing more stories about the abuse of power within the unions and how it affects the communities they serve and how this affects the people who these unions represent. Most organizers and local union officers start off with good intent. In the beginning, they truly feel they are doing a service for their coworkers and the community. Most local union officers never get to rub shoulders with international union bigwigs but for those who do start to move up, it can be a dramatic experience.

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Exploiting Weakness

Exploiting Weakness

It is no secret that I was once the “enemy”. I spent many hours persuading employees to “believe” that the union was the key solution for all of their problems. Now that I run a company that goes toe-to-toe with very same unions I once collaborated with, I am always asked how employees go from being upset about issues (or concerns) to calling a union organizer for “a voice”. Have you ever wondered how a union organizer gets the workers so emotional that they will do almost anything to defy their company to the point of being insubordinate to management? There are a few principles that have to take place before an organizer can get their teeth into your workers minds.

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Unions Are Digging In

Unions Are Digging In

Unions have been taking a more aggressive approach at organizing since Craig Becker has been selected to head the NLRB. My contacts from inside the AFL/CIO and Change to Win organizations tell me that they are instructing their affiliates that they want to cause a “perfect storm” inside the NLRB on a national level and create a severe backlog of ULP’s and EEOC cases to frustrate companies and create a political foundation to try to push forward changes in labor organizing law.

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Gauging Potential Success:

Gauging Potential Success:

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Is the union paying employees to partake in the internal Union Organizing Committee?

Why are they so angry and passionately against our company?

While working with management teams in efforts to educate employees on the realities and dangers of union membership, I am often asked these two questions. My response to them is that if the union needed to pay the organizing committee to organize, they had no chance in winning the election.

One of the major reasons employees seek unions is because they don’t feel they have any ownership or a real say in their workplace.

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Where There is Smoke There is Fire

Where There is Smoke There is Fire

Smokescreens and Sabotage

Organizing tactics and strategies affect every aspect of the union. During my organizing days, everything my team and I did were carefully calculated to influence the way future campaigns would be run. These days, while teaching management training courses, I mention how we took a “victory by any means necessary” approach. One of the most common questions I receive is “why would a union want to destroy a company when all it is doing is hurting their own members who won’t have a job if the company closes”.

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