This is how much companies pay to dissolve unions

This is how much companies pay to dissolve unions

Some of the most famous companies in America and how much they have spent on union-breaking companies. (Image: Capital & Main)

The company is just one of many that collectively spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year to keep its employees from getting organized. To take on the unions, they often hire consultants and law firms who specialize in tactics such as messaging, surveillance and intimidation. It is estimated that companies spent $340 million per year on the cottage industry of consultants, some of whom charge an hourly rate over $350 or a daily rate over $3,200. A consultant noted at a congressional hearing that the number of consultants had increased tenfold by the 1970s.

Such advisors have been around for decades and their tactics have evolved, with the increasing use of surveillance technologies such as social media monitoring and email tracking. But their approach remains essentially the same: relying on fear mongering and intimidation.

They have been incredibly successful. In recent decades, union membership has plummeted from 20.1% of U.S. wage and salary workers in 1983 to just 10.8% in 2020. While anti-union advisers have played an outrageous role, the country has also seen a decline in sectors such as manufacturing that were once heavily unionized. In addition, regulators from the Department of Labor and the National Labor Relations Board charged with ensuring fair union elections have seen their budgets slashed and enforcement of rules regulating illegal employer activities diminish over the decades.

The decline began during the Reagan administration, recalls Patrick Byrne, a former DOL official. He recalls a supervisor entering his office, pointing to a photo on the wall of FDR talking to an unemployed worker who waited on a bread line during the Depression and snapped, “That’s old hat!” Byrne says his bosses ignored multiple reports of employers who may have engaged in illegal activities during the Trump era. “Over the years, the use of consultants has skyrocketed,” he says, adding that the agency has lost its sense of mission. “The New Deal paradigm is cardiac arrest.”

On the right are some of the most well-known companies in America and how much they’ve spent on union-breaking companies.

These numbers represent just the tip of the iceberg. During the Trump administration, Labor Department officials stopped requiring companies to disclose how much they spend on union avoidance advisers. As a result, the number of LM-21 applications dropped by 38% the year after the rule change – and many of the applications filed left the dollar amount section blank. The Biden administration has yet to tighten the rules, despite its intention in April to revisit these Trump-era changes. A spokesperson for the agency did not return a request for comment.

This partial spending on anti-union advisers from 2017 to 2021 reflects the changing economy and now includes many food delivery app companies and cannabis startups trying to cut their labor costs.

Copyright 2021 Capital & Main

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Rachel Meadows

Rachel Meadows

Trending topics news writer who enjoys cooking, walking her dog and travel.

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