FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Whistle-Blower as Deep Mole

by

There’s an intriguing idea based loosely on the turn-of-the-century union practice of “salting” a workplace.  Salting consists of union activists secretly hiring into an anti-union shop in order to promote unionism from within.  It’s a technique that was used fairly often prior to passage of the Wagner Act (1935), and though not widely publicized, is still used today.

Union organizers standing outside a Wal-Mart store, diligently passing out pro-union pamphlets to employees, don’t stand much of a chance of making their case, not with all the mandatory anti-union propaganda that the under-paid and under-benefited Wal-Mart employees are regularly exposed to.  Plus, management has surveillance cameras set up in the parking lot to ferret out any union organizers looking to indoctrinate employees.

But picture a Wal-Mart store “salted” with AFL-CIO activists who are able to approach their fellow employees individually and on the sly, and show them all the advantages of joining a labor union.  Without management people attempting to demonize the labor movement at every turn, it becomes a whole other deal.

The intriguing idea we speak of is to “salt” places like chemical plants, insurance companies, defense plants, Wall Street firms, pharmaceutical labs, police departments, etc., with designated, pre-programmed whistle-blowers for the sole purpose of exposing illegal or unethical activities.  Relying on home-grown, “accidental” whistle-blowers isn’t enough.  They will forever be outgunned and outmanned.

As we all know, despite laws “protecting” the garden variety whistle-blower, he or she is almost always met with retaliation or ignominy.  It’s a risky venture.  Moreover, whistle-blowing is usually a byproduct of employee disillusionment or outrage, which, even in extreme instances, can be readily neutralized by fear of job loss.  With their economic futures at stake, people are more apt to simply look the other way than “turn traitor.”  It will be totally different with trained cadres doing this work.

Indeed, the word “whistle-blower” is probably unsuitable for our purposes, since, basically, what we’re talking about is hiring spies.  And the idea of utilizing spies is far from original.  Animal rights groups have successfully “salted” meat processing plants and “factory farms” for years.

In fact, animal rights people have been so successful in exposing inhumane conditions, not only have companies required employees to sign versions of “loyalty oaths,” but some states have even passed laws against do-gooder spies, which on its face, seems preposterous.  A state passes a law making it illegal for a person to become a cop in order to expose rampant corruption in a police department?  Really?

But instead of a handful of PETA people working at a chicken plant in Arkansas, what if it were expanded a thousand-fold?  What if there were thousands of idealistic people across the country infiltrating companies and institutions that were engaged in mischief?  An infiltrator reporting a pharmaceutical company’s fake test results.  A defense contractor overcharging the taxpayers.  Racism practiced by a police department.

While one can understand making it illegal for a “spy” to pass on company secrets to a competitor, it’s hard to reconcile punishing someone for wanting to expose malfeasance.  In the 1950s you would be praised for spying on Communists; in the 1960s, you would be praised for spying on the Ku Klux Klan.  What’s the difference between that and spying on a Wall Street firm that seeks to screw over the American public?

David Macaray is a labor columnist and author (“It’s Never Been Easy:  Essays on Modern Labor, 2nd Edition).  Dmacaray@earthlink.net

 

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is “Nightshift: 270 Factory Stories.” He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

More articles by:
June 29, 2016
Diana Johnstone
European Unification Divides Europeans: How Forcing People Together Tears Them Apart
Andrew Smolski
To My Less-Evilism Haters: A Rejoinder to Halle and Chomsky
Jeffrey St. Clair
Noam Chomsky, John Halle and a Confederacy of Lampreys: a Note on Lesser Evil Voting
David Rosen
Birth-Control Wars: Two Centuries of Struggle
Sheldon Richman
Brexit: What Kind of Dependence Now?
Yves Engler
“Canadian” Corporate Capitalism
Lawrence Davidson
Return to the Gilded Age: Paul Ryan’s Deregulated Dystopia
Priti Gulati Cox
All That Glitters is Feardom: Whatever Happens, Don’t Blame Jill Stein
Franklin Lamb
About the Accusation that Syrian and Russian Troops are Looting Palmyra
Binoy Kampmark
Texas, Abortion and the US Supreme Court
Anhvinh Doanvo
Justice Thomas’s Abortion Dissent Tolerates Discrimination
Victor Grossman
Brexit Pro and Con: the View From Germany
Manuel E. Yepe
Brazil: the Southern Giant Will Have to Fight
Rivera Sun
The Nonviolent History of American Independence
Adjoa Agyeiwaa
Is Western Aid Destroying Nigeria’s Future?
Jesse Jackson
What Clinton Should Learn From Brexit
Mel Gurtov
Is Brexit the End of the World?
June 28, 2016
Jonathan Cook
The Neoliberal Prison: Brexit Hysteria and the Liberal Mind
Paul Street
Bernie, Bakken, and Electoral Delusion: Letting Rich Guys Ruin Iowa and the World
Anthony DiMaggio
Fatally Flawed: the Bi-Partisan Travesty of American Health Care Reform
Mike King
The “Free State of Jones” in Trump’s America: Freedom Beyond White Imagination
Antonis Vradis
Stop Shedding Tears for the EU Monster: Brexit, the View From the Peloponnese
Omar Kassem
The End of the Atlantic Project: Slamming the Brakes on the Neoliberal Order
Binoy Kampmark
Brexit and the Neoliberal Revolt Against Jeremy Corbyn
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Alabama Democratic Primary Proves New York Times’ Nate Cohn Wrong about Exit Polling
Ruth Hopkins
Save Bear Butte: Mecca of the Lakota
Celestino Gusmao
Time to End Impunity for Suharto’’s Crimes in Indonesia and Timor-Leste
Thomas Knapp
SCOTUS: Amply Serving Law Enforcement’s Interests versus Society’s
Manuel E. Yepe
Capitalism is the Opposite of Democracy
Winslow Myers
Up Against the Wall
Chris Ernesto
Bernie’s “Political Revolution” = Vote for Clinton and the Neocons
Stephanie Van Hook
The Time for Silence is Over
Ajamu Nangwaya
Toronto’s Bathhouse Raids: Racialized, Queer Solidarity and Police Violence
June 27, 2016
Robin Hahnel
Brexit: Establishment Freak Out
James Bradley
Omar’s Motive
Gregory Wilpert – Michael Hudson
How Western Military Interventions Shaped the Brexit Vote
Leonard Peltier
41 Years Since Jumping Bull (But 500 Years of Trauma)
Rev. William Alberts
Orlando: the Latest Victim of Radicalizing American Imperialism
Patrick Cockburn
Brexiteers Have Much in Common With Arab Spring Protesters
Franklin Lamb
How 100 Syrians, 200 Russians and 11 Dogs Out-Witted ISIS and Saved Palmyra
John Grant
Omar Mateen: The Answers are All Around Us
Dean Baker
In the Wake of Brexit Will the EU Finally Turn Away From Austerity?
Ralph Nader
The IRS and the Self-Minimization of Congressman Jason Chaffetz
Johan Galtung
Goodbye UK, Goodbye Great Britain: What Next?
Martha Pskowski
Detained in Dilley: Deportation and Asylum in Texas
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail