May 22, 2009

New Study Shows Employers' Anti-UnionTactics Have Increased

A new study illustrates what workers have known for years--it's become harder to get a union than ever, thanks to an increase in opposition to unionization by employers.

The study, by Kate Bronfenbrenner, director of labor education research at the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations, is titled “No Holds Barred: The Intensification of Employer Opposition to Organizing." The study was
based on a random sample of 1,004 unionization elections from early 1999 to late 2003 and relied on a review of National Labor Relations Board cases and documents, as well as surveys of 562 lead union organizers.
A similar study done 12 years ago found that employers used 10 or more types of anti-union tactics in 26 percent of unionization drives. Bronfenbrenner's study shows that 10 or more antiunion tactics were used by employers in 49%, or almost half of all organizing efforts. In 12 years, companies have doubled their efforts to oppose unionization among their workers.

The report includes confirmation that there has been an increase in more coercive and retaliatory tactics, such as:
plant closing threats and actual plant closings, discharges, harassment and other discipline, surveillance, and alteration of benefits and conditions.
And it shows that even workers who have the determination and strength to fight through may not be guaranteed a contract, since:
Even for those who do win the election, 52% are still without a contract a year later, and 37% are still without a contract two years after an election.
For most workers who've tried to get a union at their workplace, the report simply confirms the bitter truth they've been aware of for a long time--and demonstrates the increased importance of passing the Employee Free Choice Act.

When Joanne Fowler, a Certified Nursing Assistant at Lake Village Health Care in Wilmot, Ark.,and her co-workers tried to organize their workplace, management threatened workers with layoffs and tried to bribe workers with raises if they would vote against the union. She said that:
under the Employee Free Choice Act, it will be the workers’ free choice to organize. You won’t have to worry about the company threatening you.
At a briefing today on Capitol Hill to unveil the study, California Rite Aid worker Angel Warner, who is trying to form a union and get a contract with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union spoke out about anti-union tactics and intimidation:
We wanted to form a union so we would be treated with dignity and could speak up without fear of losing our jobs. Now we finally got through the harassment to form a union and we still don't have a contract. It shouldn't be like this. If my coworkers and I want a union, we should have one.

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