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Peerless Plywood scares 'em into submission

Captive Audience meetings are the reason why unions lose elections, and all unionists need to understand why

Kris LaGrange's picture
Feb 17, 2017
I get frustrated when trying to explain to a Building Trades union leader why the workers at the Walmart or Home Depot they just built don't organize. It's even more frustrating when the PBA delegate who shows up to "police" my leafletting attempt at an unorganized shop tells me to leave and to "set up a meeting with management" if I want to talk union with the employees. Even educators have a difficult time understanding that at one point, there was no union at their school, and teachers before them risked plenty just so they could have a voice at work - a right that many who walk into union jobs take for granted. The International Association of Machinist just lost a 3,000 person union election at Boeing in South Carolina. Here's why;
More than sixty years ago the NLRB ruled in Peerless Plywood that employers are permitted under the National Labor Relations Act to hold captive audience meetings in connection with union elections. Employers are permitted to hold mandatory employee meetings preceding the election whereby they intimidate their employees into voting against unionization. These mandatory meetings are held at the employer's worksite during working hours. There is no requirement that representatives from the union be given equal access at these meetings.  

At these meetings, scared, tired and overworked workers are yelled at, lied to, given bribes and forced to watch union avoidance videos. They are told the plant will close, they will be fired, they will lose everything and to please give management another chance at being a good employer. So if you're wondering why the IAM lost, imagine sitting in those meetings every day for 3 months. Peerless Plywood needs to be overturned and all in the union movement have to understand the difficulty private sector unions face when trying to organize in an uneven playing field.

captive audience. Listeners or onlookers who have no choice but to attend. For example, It's a required course and, knowing he has a captive audience, the professor rambles on endlessly. This expression, first recorded in 1902, uses captivein the sense of “unable to escape.”

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