Here are a few tricks and sweet-talking they’ll try. Stay smart and alert, and remember: YOU are the union. The company looks out for its bottom line.
- They want you to give them a second chance to make things right. “Wait and see” — this plays to their tactic to convince workers that they’re listening and can take care of your concerns without the need for a third-party union. They may promise to do better, to change their behavior, or even reassign difficult supervisors. The truth is that while they may make some changes initially that are good for workers, after the union organizing stops, they go back to their old ways.
- They will say “We’re worried about what might happen to you.” They aren’t really worried about you. They’re worried about themselves.
- They may start paying more attention to you. Either in an effort to win you over as a worker who can side with them against pro-union workers or to play on your desire to be seen as a good worker. Don’t fall for it. It won’t last.
- They hire consultants and lawyers. That in itself can be intimidating, and these are pros who get paid very well to keep unions out. Think about it: If they’re willing to pay so much to keep the union out, they must be afraid of the value the union will bring in. TO YOU.
- They will hold captive audience meetings. Management may require that you attend meetings at your worksite to talk to you about your desire to form a union. Because you are already on the job and management is in control, these gatherings are called "captive audience" meetings. These meetings give management the opportunity to present misleading information about unions while attempting to place management in the best possible light. Management may give false promises about their future behavior towards workers or even threaten some dire action if workers continue their organizing efforts. While captive audience meetings give management an unfair advantage, you are free to assemble outside of work to support organizing efforts.
- They will claim they had no idea workers were unhappy. Management often claims they didn't know workers were dissatisfied with working conditions, unfair treatment, repressive policies, lack of pay raises, or lousy benefits. If management truly didn't know about worker dissatisfaction, then they are out of touch with the workforce. On the other hand, if they were aware that workers were upset but did nothing to address the situation, it shows they were indifferent to their own employees.
- They will claim the union is only after money, and that the company doesn’t need a third party to make sure workers are paid and treated fairly. Management often uses the argument that the union is a third party that comes between the company and their employees. Management may also argue that unions are only after dues money. The truth is that a union is not some far-away entity; the workers themselves are the union. It is you and your fellow workers who elect your local officers, vote on local bylaws, choose the bargaining committee to negotiate with the employer, and run day-to-day operations. The International union provides the guidance, the experienced representatives, and the resources to support the local lodge. Dues money is what pays for these services and the operation of the local lodge.
- They might threaten to shut down the facility. Management may hope to scare you away from organizing with a direct or indirect threat. They may threaten to lay off employees, close the business, or move operations out of the area. Shutting down operations because employees unionize — or even threatening to do so — is against the law. Companies may close for a variety of reasons, including poor management, shifting market needs, or a weak economy. Workers forming a union a having a voice is not one of those reasons.
- They will hold one-on-one meetings with supervisors. The purpose is to pressure them against pro-union workers or the organizing efforts.
- They will stall. Management hopes it can stall the election process or, if you win the union election, prolong negotiations for your first contract. Their aim is to cause frustration and impatience so that you finally give up. The National Labor Relations Act requires both parties, the union and the company, to bargain "in good faith". That means each side must have the intent to reach a contract and not merely go through the motions or endure constant delays to undermine the bargaining process.
They will lie. They may tell you things like, “the union will force you to strike.” That’s just not true. In a union, you and your fellow members will vote on how to deal with certain issues. 99% of the time, the Boilermakers solve issues without striking.
You should fully expect that they will try to spring some kind of unexpected event or surprise attack. According to the Union Busting Playbook, “These can include a captive-audience meeting with a company executive who flies in from out of town, an unfounded charge about the union, or anything else designed to place doubts in workers’ minds about the union.” Expect it, and plan for it.