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28 Sep 2020

USA: Several companies accused of hiring ‘labour-busting’ law firms & consultants to undermine unionisation efforts among workers

Several multinational corporations have been accused of hiring law firms and consultants known for their ‘union avoidance’ expertise in order to undermine unionisation efforts among workers in the United States. These firms include Ogletree Deakins, Littler Mendelson, and Jackson Lewis. According to Kate Bronfenbrenner, Director of Labour Education Research at Cornell University, companies spend as much as $340 million a year on such services.

Advice allegedly offered by the law firms and consultants include using surveillance to monitor and mitigate the likelihood of unionisation, billboard campaigns to dissuade workers from joining unions, and scare tactics such as captive-audience meetings.

Companies accused of adopting such tactics include: Volkswagen, IKEA, Google, Amazon, Nissan, and Delta Airlines, Rite Aid, and HCA Healthcare. Labour rights advocates criticise these companies for undermining the fundamental right to freedom of association. Furthermore, European companies have been accused of exploiting the weaknesses of US federal labour laws to undermine workers’ rights in ways they would not in Europe.

Statements from IKEA, Google, Nissan, Rite Aid and Delta are included in the articles below. In September 2020, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Amazon, Volkswagen, HCA Healthcare, Ogletree Deakins, Littler Mendelson, and Jackson Lewis to respond. Responses from Amazon and Volkswagen are included below. HCA Healthcare, Ogletree Deakins, Littler Mendelson, and Jackson Lewis did not respond.

Company Responses

Amazon.com View Response
Volkswagen View Response
Ogletree Deakins

No Response

Littler Mendelson

No Response

HCA Healthcare

No Response

Jackson Lewis

No Response