For some workers, having to sit through captive audience meetings where employer representatives tell you that, “you have the right to organize, but it would be a very bad idea” has become mandatory while on the way to organizing for a voice at work.
A new trend has emerged, however, where some workers have been able to secretly record these meetings. These recordings offer a sneak peek at what some companies have been doing to keep workers from forming a Union.
Dave Jamieson, a Labor reporter at the Huffington Post, released an article this week covering three companies — Coca-Cola, FedEx, and Staples — which have had their captive audience meetings recorded by attendees. The similarities when it comes to the messaging from the union busters employed by these companies is uncanny.
The audio of all three of these meetings can be found on HuffingtonPost.
In the case of Coca-Cola, workers were quick to realize they were not, “just being informed of their options.” The tone of the meeting is always anti-union, with suggestions such as: “When a union comes in […] they’re seeking money from employees.”
In rare cases, these meetings give workers the opportunity to confront the lies they are being told by management. Here’s another excerpt from the Coca-Cola meeting:
When the man says that all unions want is money, one worker asks him how much he is being paid to hold the information session.
“How much is your salary for this meeting, as far as you talking about unions and stuff like that?”
“My salary doesn’t matter,” the man replies. “This is my job. I work for Coke just like you do.”
After being warned about the costs of union representation, the worker responds, “I wouldn’t mind paying for representation, because I don’t feel like anyone is representing me [now].”
“Why would people go seek a third party?” one worker asks. “You get what I’m saying? There has to be a problem.”
“You put so much emphasis on discouraging people about the union,” another worker says. “Why wouldn’t you put the same emphasis on finding out what problems the employees have and try to make them better?”
The worker who recorded the meeting told Jamieson that the thought of unionizing is necessary because “pay is not matching the labor.”
“Most guys believe that if I give a fair day’s work I should get a fair day’s pay,” he added.
These brief moments of truth, are not exclusive to Coca-Cola. Accidental confessions, when tempers flare and the meeting host breaks down and tells the workers what the company truly feels about them.
That’s what happened in the recorded FedEx Freight meeting:
“We do not want a union at FedEx Freight, not under any circumstances. Okay?” he (the union buster) says. “This company by any legal means necessary will fight that. And everybody in this room and everybody who works for this organization needs to understand that. We don’t support it. We don’t think it fits with our business model. We don’t think it’s good for you or your families.”
None of these meetings’ legal protection can complicate the simple concept of worker protection. As one Teamsters supporter working at FedEx told Jamieson, “I think it’s about time we had a voice.”
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