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41% of Employers Illegally Bust Unions

A new report says that in 41% of union elections, employers use illegal tactics to stop the union

Brian Young's picture
Dec 11, 2019

We all know that union elections are often strongly contested by employers. They bring in high priced lawyers and union “avoidance” experts to instruct the company on how to bust the union. They also oftentimes break the law by taking actions such as firing employees who are leading the organizing effort.

A new study from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) found that in 41.5% of all union elections, charges will be filed against an employer and in 25% of elections at least one employee will be illegally fired. Common tactics include making threats, engaging in surveillance activities, or harassing workers. These happen in nearly a third of all union election campaigns. In just 2016-17, companies spent an estimated $340 Million on union avoidance consultants.

Not surprisingly, bosses at big companies were most likely to use illegal tactics to stop a union from coming into their workplace. The study found that in elections at a workplace of 60 or more people, 54% of employers used an illegal tactic to bust the union.

Since it is illegal, why do employers feel so comfortable breaking the law? The answer is really simple. The penalties that they receive are a joke. Simply put they are a slap on the wrist. Even the big fines are rarely more than $50,000, a small amount for a company that can afford the high priced lawyers. It is also a lot less than the company would pay in raises, retirement and health care benefits if the company went union. Some candidates for President have suggested that penalties be stronger, including jail time. Until that happens, expect more charges to be brought against employers trying to break a union.

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