In a post a few weeks ago, we speculated that as EFCA’s prospects dwindled, employers might expect to see a recognizable uptick in union corporate campaign activity. Now that card-check is possibly dropping out of the compromise bill being crafted in the Senate, employers must be prepared to face increased organizing by corporate campaigns. After all, securing agreement on card-check recognition — often accompanied by an employer’s pledged "neutrality" — is usually the primary goal of these campaigns. These efforts confront the target employer with a highly coordinated campaign of negative publicity, consumer pressure, legislative and regulatory action, and litigation in order to coerce acquiescence to union organizing efforts
And it appears that the efforts are indeed becoming more visible again.
Yesterday’s Boston Globe reported on Change To Win’s latest salvo in its ongoing campaign against retailer CVS Caremark:
CVS Caremark Corp. last year had a 67 percent increase in the number of state violations for allegedly overcharging customers, the largest of any retailer in Massachusetts, according to a report to be released today.
Consumer advocates and organizers from Change to Win, a coalition of American labor unions, plan to unveil the analysis – compiled from inspection reports from the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation – and call upon lawmakers to do more to strengthen pricing protections.
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center CEO Paul Levy continues his excellent blogging on the SEIU’s corporate campaign against the Boston hospital, following up an earlier post this week with "Because It Can":
There are sightings of a new mobile billboard hired by SEIU to burn fuel through the neighborhoods of Boston. Add to that the likely rental of bus and trolley stop ads, the ubiquitous internet ads, on top of purchasing full paid ads in the local newspapers. I am sometimes asked, "Why does the SEIU do this?"
As you all know by now, the ads have nothing to do with organizing workers. They are meant to denigrate the reputation of the hospital as part of a corporate campaign. Even if any of the accusations made in the ads were to be accurate, why would the existence of problems at BIDMC be an argument for unionization? By that logic, what would one conclude from certain types of problems at the SEIU?
And late last week, Cintas announced that it would appeal the recent dismissal of its RICO lawsuit against UNITE-HERE and the Teamsters arising out of the unions’ long corporate campaign against the uniform company. Per a statement released by the company:
“We strongly believe in the merits of this case and are hopeful that the Second Circuit Court of Appeals will not allow the District Court’s decision to stand,” said Scott Farmer, Chief Executive Officer of Cintas Corporation. “We disagree with the recent ruling and remain committed to protecting Cintas and our employees from the unions’ ongoing extortion,” he added.
Cintas alleges that, for the last six years, UNITE HERE and the above named labor organizations have carried on a campaign of negative, untrue and unlawful attacks against Cintas in an effort to extort concessions from the company that would enable UNITE HERE and the Teamsters to become the official bargaining representatives for Cintas employees without a valid showing of majority support and without those employees ever being able to freely decide whether they want a union. At the outset of its corporate campaign against Cintas, Bruce Raynor, Co-President of UNITE HERE publicly stated he intended to ‘break the back’ of Cintas if the company did not agree to his demands. The company has long maintained that the right to choose whether to be a member of a union belongs to each individual employee, and has continually reiterated its commitments to protect its employees’ rights to the secret ballot election process.
Time will tell whether the novel RICO approach by employers will preclude more widespread use of the corporate campaign. In the meantime, however, since it appears the Congress may be unable to deliver card-check organizing to unions, employers should be prepared to face alternative union efforts to obtain it via this potentially effective method.