Today in Labor History: June 11
Representatives from the AFL, Knights of Labor, populists, railroad brotherhoods and other trade unions hold a unity conference in St. Louis but fail to overcome their differences – 1894
(Welcome to the Union: Don’t let management’s voice be the only one heard by new employees who hire on in your unionized workplace. Welcome them to the job with this easy-to-read, solidarity-building introduction to unionism. It comes in two versions—public sector and private sector.)
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Member Tip: Corporate Campaigns
Changing times and power relationships have launched the corporate campaign as a new form of union action. In a corporate campaign, rather than just calling a strike, the union analyzes where the employer’s weaknesses lie, and that’s where it brings pressure to bear. A few examples:
• A hospital’s business depends on how much confidence patients and potential patients have in its services; so the union may take out ads or run radio spots to publicize how understaffing affects the quality of care provided.
• An employer may rely very heavily on consumers viewing it as a good “corporate citizen,” and may therefore be nervous about having its image tarnished; one newspaper union, for example, made a public point in bargaining of dramatizing that part-time workers (who received no company benefits) were forced to make ends meet by getting food stamps.
• A public agency needs continual funding from the legislature; so the union may collect and disclose examples of wasteful expenditures of taxpayer dollars by the agency.
In a given situation, creative pressure tactics may prove to be as effective, or even more so, than a traditional strike, especially in today’s economy. If your union decides to go this route, you may be an essential part of the plan: collecting information about what’s going on in the workplace, for example, or publicizing in the community information that the union has dug up on the employer.
—Adapted from The Union Member’s Complete Guide, by Michael Mauer