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Unionbusting Firms Profiting from Corporate America's Fear of Workers' Rights

"Union avoidance" firms are marketing "Employee Free Choice Act Defense Kits" for $5,000 a set.

As political wars broke out yesterday over union rights, at a hearing before the Senate health and labor committee, economic experts were joined by union members -- an electrical line repair woman from Alaska and others -- who explained the benefits of joining a union as a gateway to the middle class. The battle over the Employee Free Choice Act introduced yesterday, however, is also proving to be a full-employment project not just for lobbyists and flacks, but "union avoidance" firms such as Jackson-Lewis that are marketing "Employee Free Choice Act Defense Kits" for nearly $5,000 a set, if you act now. Jackson Lewis asks:

Is your company at risk for a union organizing attempt? Is everyone, at every level of your company, aware of the tactics unions are using today to gain new members? EFCA calls for revolutionary changes to labor law, changes that would allow them to organize your entire workforce by simply getting 50% +1 employee to sign a "union authorization" card. That means 100% of your employees could become union members without ever having been asked to voice their opinion on that representation ... representation that would obligate every employee to pay dues, that would obligate you to bargain on wages, benefits and working conditions, and could make your company liable to substantial fines for any infraction of the law. [Editor's note: Not really. Labor laws are virtually unenforced.] Introducing the EFCA Defense Kit: The Ultimate Union-Free Solution ...With the anticipated shifts in the political climate, its imperative that every company begin educating employees at all levels in order to protect those employees' rights. Companies that are caught unaware of the card check provisions in this law could find themselves facing a unionized workforce that never had the chance to hear the potential downside of union membership. A vital, time-limited offer The EFCA Defense Kit is worth every penny and more. In fact, many companies who understand the cost of a union organizing drive, or worse yet, unionization, consider the cost of this kit nominal for the powerful information it delivers. The kit contains 6 DVDs that educate upper management, supervisors and mid-level managers, existing employees and new employees. What's more, it offers ongoing communication that will help your company stay union-free for years to come - all through great communication tools and positive employee relations.

The alarmist instructional materials join the newly updated Jackson Lewis's fear-inducing seminars (like the one I reported on undercover for In These Times) that come sporting rave views from some leading American companies. The firm's latest brochure for "How to Stay Union Free" asks a panicked corporate America: "Is your organization fully prepared for the new NLRB, the new EFCA Law and the new Union Organizing Tactics?" The law firm warns in bold red:

*The union organizing threat is greater than ever before. *In these turbulent times the stakes are higher. *No organization is safe from the risk.

Is this describing the spread of a lethal smallpox virus or the right of workers to organize? Employers are naturally grateful for learning how to engage in various tactics that are generally perfectly legal if they avoid direct threats: These include one-on-one "sweat sessions" that essentially intimidate workers about joining a union, and captive audience meetings with groups of workers to warn how unionization could deplete their paychecks and possibly lead the company to shut down -- all, they argue, worsened by the dreaded Employee Free Choice Act. No wonder corporate executives offer high praise for the training they get:

"We all know you can never "over communicate" with employees, but "how" you communicate is just as important as "what" you communicate. Thanks to your efforts, we were able to communicate a difficult message in and engaging and effective way." Director, Global Labor and Employee Relations, Honeywell

And an official with the nursing home chain Golden Living is equally pleased with the advice it receives from Jackson Lewis. No matter that Golden Living has been investigated both by the federal government in a whistleblower complaint about alleged medical equipment Medicare fraud and as part of a still-pending wrongful death suit, both still-unproven allegations that have been firmly denied by the company. Even so, it took time out from its legal schedule and anti-union efforts to praise Jackson Lewis's strategic insights:

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