We hear it again and again, big corporations like Walmart paying lobbyists a fortune and running campaigns about union thuggery on behalf of their fat corporate clients in an effort to defeat Employee Free Choice (EFCA). Because they care so very much about their workers.

If they’re worried about thuggery, maybe they ought to be looking in the mirror:

Compared to the 1990s, employers are more than twice as likely to use 10 or more tactics in their anti-union campaigns, with a greater focus on more coercive and punitive tactics designed to intensely monitor and punish union activity.

It has become standard practice for workers to be subjected by corporations to threats, interrogation, harassment, surveillance, and retaliation for supporting a union. An analysis of the 1999-2003 data on NLRB election campaigns finds that:

  • 63%of employers interrogate workers in mandatory one-on-one meetings with their supervisors about support for the union;
  • 54% of employers threaten workers in such meetings;
  • 57% of employers threaten to close the worksite;
  • 47% of employers threaten to cut wages and benefits; and
  • 34% of employers fire workers.

These private-sector campaigns differ markedly from public-sector campaigns. Survey data from the public sector describe an atmosphere in which workers organize relatively free from the kind of coercion, intimidation, and retaliation that so dominates in the private sector. Most of the states in the public-sector sample have laws allowing workers to choose a union through the majority sign-up process.

The heat is going to be on Arkansas, where Blanche Lincoln, who is up for re-election in 2010, is under intense pressure from Walmart not to vote for cloture. Good thing the Apline Group has former Lincoln staffer Charles Barnett and her 1992 campaign manager Greg Means lobbying against EFCA on behalf of Home Depot.

Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Firedoglake.com. Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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