On May 26, 2011, the House Subcommittee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions held a hearing entitled "Corporate Campaigns and the NLRB: The Impact of Union Pressure on Job Creation." Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN) opened the hearing, defining "a corporate campaign" as a "union effort to disrupt an employer’s routine business" in order to put pressure on the employer to facilitate union organizing. These campaigns often include coordinated tactics such as negative advertising, legal and regulatory complaints filed at government agencies, public relations and consumer communications, and appeals to political and religious leaders. Rep. Roe noted the increasing popularity of this strategy and some related concerns thus:
Over the years the use of corporate campaigns has accelerated. According to one study, between 1974 and 1999, only 200 corporate campaigns were identified. Yet in 2005 it was estimated that between 15 and 20 corporate campaigns were underway at any given time. And recently the National Labor Relations Board has taken a number of steps to expand the arsenal of tactics available for a corporate campaign.
The board has removed bannering restrictions previously placed on boycotts of neutral employers. Employees of onsite contractors have been granted greater access to the property of the contracting employer connected to organizing activity. The board has also requested briefs that could allow even greater access to an employer’s property.
Testifying at the hearing were labor lawyer Jonathan Fritts, Esq., of Morgan Lewis; Chet Karnas, owner of Lone Sun Builders, Inc.; David Bego, CEO of Executive Management Services; and, UC Law Professor Catherine Fisk. An archived webcast of the hearing is available here, and the prepared introductory testimony of each witness is here.
For more on corporate campaigns, see these earlier blog posts and other resources:
- "UAW Asks Auto-Makers to Agree to ‘Principles for Fair Union Elections" (January 2011)
- "Columnist Tells Starbucks to ‘Smell the Coffee and Fight Back" (June 2009)
- "Union Corporate Campaigns Remain Route to Card Check Organizing" (May 2009)
- "SEIU Ramps Up Campaign Against Bank of America and CEO" (April 2009)
- "The Death of a Thousand Cuts: Corporate Campaigns and the Attack on the Corporation" by Jarol B. Manheim
- "RICO Suits: Employers Fight Back Against Union Smear Campaigns" Capital Research Center’s Labor Watch (July 2008)