How Amazon, Starbucks and Other Companies Fight Unions | Robert Reich

As a worker, you have a legal right to join a union, but there are many ways large corporations work around the law to prevent you from getting your fair share. You could be working for a union buster and not even know it.

Here are the four biggest tricks to look out for:

The first: anti-union propaganda

Employers turn workers into a captive audience for making false or misleading claims about unions. In 2019, Delta distributed pamphlets to flight attendants and ramp workers warning that union dues would cost $700 a year. But here’s what they didn’t mention: Union workers make $700 more a month.

It’s amazing how they missed that part, isn’t it?

Amazon has plastered its warehouses with anti-union ads. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz claimed he had no choice but to cut union shop workers from new employee benefits.

Starbucks’ caffeinated anti-union efforts may leave a bitter aftertaste. But are they legal? | Opinion

I guess when you’re the boss, you can just make something up.

Two: Your employer hires fancy anti-union firms, lawyers and consultants

The company says it can’t afford to raise wages for workers, but is spending millions on consultants to fight unions. You may hear your superiors call it “union avoidance,” but it basically means “union busting in a suit.”

Three: delay, delay, delay

Employers illegally cancel union vote. But they are circumventing the law to prevent this vote for as long as possible.

And while they’re stalling, they’re pulling dirty tricks to stop the union from moving. Before the recent labor election in Buffalo, Starbucks flooded stores with managers to put pressure on workers. One Starbucks worker said he was told to go to a meeting, only to be met by six supervisors who pressured him to drop the union.

Therefore, it takes so many managers to screw up an employee.

Fourth: If none of these union busting tactics work, your employer may simply be breaking the law

Starbucks recently fired more than 20 union leaders. Amazon fired a union leader for absenteeism – although he was on leave to care for a A family member with COVID. US employers are accused of violating federal law in more than 40 percent of union election campaigns.

Excuse me, I have to stop for a second. 40 percent of the time? Really? If I broke the law 40 percent of the time, I’d be in jail faster than you can say “Pinkerton!”

Are companies allowed to circumvent the law in this way? no! But labor laws take a long time to enforce – if they are enforced at all. And the worst that can happen is that the corporation has to rehire the worker it wrongfully fired and pay back wages. Not surprisingly, some companies decide it’s cheaper to break the law than to follow it. It’s simply the “cost of doing business” for a giant corporation like Amazon.

But here’s some good news: A bill called the PRO Act would strengthen protections for union organizers and make many types of “union avoidance” illegal. Call your legislators and ask them to support this today.

They won’t just end up on the right side of history. They will be on the right side of public opinion. Most Americans included 77 percent of the youth, support the right to join the union. Starbucks and Amazon workers did not give in to intimidation and began to join unions. Across the country, American workers are becoming clever tricksters of corporate union busting.

Big corporations are fighting a dirty fight to keep their workers from organizing – and they’re still losing. Imagine what could happen if they had to fight fair.

Robert Reich writes at This piece reprinted from the Minnesota Reformersister site of the Pennsylvania Capital-Star.

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