Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

A Corporate Crime Wave of Labor Law Violations

A new study of 1004 union organizing drives conducted by the director of labor education research at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations has found that two-third of the companies involved were violating US labor law by holding one-on-one interrogations of workers, by threatening workers about their union support, by firing union organizers or using half a dozen other illegal tactics to defeat unionization campaigns.

Prof. Kate Bronfenbrenner, author of No Holds Barred: The Intensification of Employer Opposition ot Organizing, says that these illegal tactics by employers have been used to drive union representation at American companies down to only 12.4 percent from a level of 22 percent just 30 years ago.

If a similar level of illegal behavior by companies was reported dealing with, say, false billing of customers, deceptive reports to shareholders or violation of environmental laws, there would be a clamor for action in Congress, and among the public, but so far, there is no outcry over this wholesale violation of the nation’s labor laws.

One reason may be because nobody except the unions themselves and the companies breaking the law would know about this particular corporate crime wave.

The only article I’ve seen on this study was published by the New York Times, but it was run in an inside page of the Times business section, which is largely ignored by most readers.

Why would an article about workers be consigned to the business pages?  Is it only of interest to businesses and investors? Surely not.  The author of the piece, Steven Greenhouse, one of the nation’s last journalists to actually have a labor beat, is a fine reporter, and writes his articles not in business jargon but in a style that would be easily understood by anyone who could read. His article, headlined “Study Says Antiunion Tactics Are Becoming More Common,” surely belongs in the front section of the newspaper, and in fact, given its shocking evidence of rampant criminality on the part of employers on a national scale, should be on the front page of the paper if editors were applying honest news judgement (How many people are impacted? How new is the information? How dramatic is the new information?).

But a second reason may be that unions themselves are doing a poor job of getting the story out.

Right now the US labor movement is desperately trying to win passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, a bill which, if passed as currently written—a long shot at this point—would address some of the issues raised in Prof. Bronfenbrenner’s study by eliminating the need for secret ballot unionization votes. Those elections, companies and their labor-busting lawyers have long ago learned, can be delayed for years while they illegally whittle away at union support.  But because the unions are trying to keep the support of a wavering President Barack Obama and of Democrats in Congress for passage of EFCA, in the face of massive lobbying by big business interests, they are avoiding the kind of street politics that would make this corporate crime wave a big story.

What should be happening is mass marches in the nation’s cities, and especially in Washington, demanding action on EFCA. President Obama and most Democrats in both Houses of Congress, all campaigned saying they backed EFCA, but now many are backing away from that promise.

A million angry workers massed and shouting on the Washington Mall would stiffen their spines, as would big demonstrations in the major cities of the country.

Mass action would also force the media to look at the way companies are simply thumbing their noses at the nation’s labor laws, which outlaw intimidation of workers, outlaw firing of union activists, and guarantee free elections on the issue of whether to have a union at a workplace.

Of course, a third problem is that American workers have long been quiescent on the issue of labor unions.  Polls show that a majority of Americans would like to have a union where they work, but very few of us seem willing to fight for that right. Maybe with polls showing that over 50 percent of Americans now worry that they may be laid off, and with companies clearly using the economic crisis as an excuse for bashing employees, that quiescence is ending. The only way to find out is for the labor movement to call for street action.

This is no time to be polite with politicians, and no time to limit political action to writing email letters, signing petitions and making phone calls.

This is a time to call out the corporate managers who are treating the labor laws like so much toilet paper—a time for boycotts, for marches, and for sit-ins.

End the American corporate crime wave of labor law violations!

Demand stiff penalties for breaking labor laws!

Support unionized companies and boycott anti-union companies!

Pass the ECFA,  as written, with no compromises!

DAVE LINDORFF is a Philadelphia-based journalist and columnist. His latest book is “The Case for Impeachment” (St. Martin’s Press, 2006 and now available in paperback). He can be reached at dlindorff@mindspring.com

More articles by:

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

Weekend Edition
October 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
The Pieties of the Liberal Class
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
Paul Street
“Male Energy,” Authoritarian Whiteness and Creeping Fascism in the Age of Trump
Nick Pemberton
Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why The Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved
John Davis
The Last History of the United States
Yigal Bronner
The Road to Khan al-Akhmar
Robert Hunziker
The Negan Syndrome
Andrew Levine
Democrats Ahead: Progressives Beware
Rannie Amiri
There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen
David Rosen
America’s Lost Souls: the 21st Century Lumpen-Proletariat?
Joseph Natoli
The Age of Misrepresentations
Ron Jacobs
History Is Not Kind
John Laforge
White House Radiation: Weakened Regulations Would Save Industry Billions
Ramzy Baroud
The UN ‘Sheriff’: Nikki Haley Elevated Israel, Damaged US Standing
Robert Fantina
Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
NAFTA 2.0 Will Help Corporations More Than Farmers
Jill Richardson
Identity Crisis: Elizabeth Warren’s Claims Cherokee Heritage
Sam Husseini
The Most Strategic Midterm Race: Elder Challenges Hoyer
Maria Foscarinis – John Tharp
The Criminalization of Homelessness
Robert Fisk
The Story of the Armenian Legion: a Dark Tale of Anger and Revenge
Jacques R. Pauwels
Dinner With Marx in the House of the Swan
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Ricardo Vaz
How Many Yemenis is a DC Pundit Worth?
Elliot Sperber
Build More Gardens, Phase out Cars
Chris Gilbert
In the Wake of Nepal’s Incomplete Revolution: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian 
Muhammad Othman
Let Us Bray
Gerry Brown
Are Chinese Municipal $6 Trillion (40 Trillion Yuan) Hidden Debts Posing Titanic Risks?
Rev. William Alberts
Judge Kavanaugh’s Defenders Doth Protest Too Much
Ralph Nader
Unmasking Phony Values Campaigns by the Corporatists
Victor Grossman
A Big Rally and a Bavarian Vote
James Bovard
Groped at the Airport: Congress Must End TSA’s Sexual Assaults on Women
Jeff Roby
Florida After Hurricane Michael: the Sad State of the Unheeded Planner
Wim Laven
Intentional or Incompetence—Voter Suppression Where We Live
Bradley Kaye
The Policy of Policing
Wim Laven
The Catholic Church Fails Sexual Abuse Victims
Kevin Cashman
One Year After Hurricane Maria: Employment in Puerto Rico is Down by 26,000
Dr. Hakim Young
Nonviolent Afghans Bring a Breath of Fresh Air
Karl Grossman
Irving Like vs. Big Nuke
Dan Corjescu
The New Politics of Climate Change
John Carter
The Plight of the Pyrenees: the Abandoned Guard Dogs of the West
Ted Rall
Brett Kavanaugh and the Politics of Emotion-Shaming
Graham Peebles
Sharing is Key to a New Economic and Democratic Order
Ed Rampell
The Advocates
Louis Proyect
The Education Business
David Yearsley
Shock-and-Awe Inside Oracle Arena
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail