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30 Mär 2023

Kristin Toussaint, Fast Company

USA: Employers spend more than USD400m a year fighting unions, finds Economic Policy Institute

"Employers spend more than $400 million a year fighting unions"

... Though a majority of Americans support unions, just a small fraction of workers—about 12%—are actually in one. Labor experts say one reason for that discrepancy has to do with the efforts companies have made to fight or derail union organizing. And all those efforts have come at a hefty cost: Employers spend more than $400 million a year on “union-avoidance consultants,” according to the Economic Policy Institute.

That data is an update to a 2019 EPI report on the union-avoidance industry, and coincided with a hearing by the Bernie Sanders-led Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (aka HELP Committee) about Starbucks’s union-busting tactics. “We wanted to shed light [on the fact that] large corporations spend millions of dollars each year just to deter and suppress their workers from forming a union, even though that is the workers’ right to do so,” says Margaret Poydock, a policy analyst with the EPI.

There aren’t numbers for how much Starbucks has spent on such consultants, though, because of a loophole in the law. While employers and consultants are required to report certain “union-avoidance expenditures” through forms with the Department of Labor, there are exemptions if a consultant is just providing “advice”—a vague term the EPI notes is not defined by the law. As such, it’s often exploited by employers and consulting firms...

In 2019, for example, Delta distributed posters to employees suggesting their money would be better spent on video games than union dues; that same year a Nevada casino served “VOTE NO” branded steaks on the free buffet line for employees just days ahead of a union election...

The National Labor Relations Board found that Amazon broke the law when fighting two union efforts in Staten Island warehouses in 2021 and 2022, but there was essentially no penalty; the ruling simply ordered Amazon to stop...

[Coverage of the allegations of union avoidance tactics levelled at Starbucks can be read here]