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Organizing Ground Effects

Ground Effects is a modest sized company that is a parts supplier for Ford Rouge production where UAW Local 600 represents the employees. Local 600 decided to organize this non-union shop of about 45 people under the new expedited procedures recently put into effect by the National Labor Relations Board. These expedited elections have been attacked by the anti-union lobby as "ambush" elections because they do not give the employer sufficient time to tell the employees its side of the story.

In response to this "ambush" election, Ground Effects hired about four expert union busters to organize its anti-union campaign. They held captive audience meetings every week and played movies showing plants that went out of business allegedly because they had been organized by the union. A measure of the kind of pressure placed on the workers can be gleaned from a notice that the corporation is required to post by the NLRB. In spite of this assault on the workers in this unit, the UAW lost by only one vote. A new election will be coming due to the employer misconduct.

The notice requires that the employer not tell employees that Local 600 could not help them if it won the election, they will not ask employees about fellow employees union attitudes, they will not promise benefits and improve benefits to discourage pro-union activity by their employees, they will not solicit grievances and imply they will process them in order to discourage pro-union activity, they will not threaten plant closure, loss of benefits and loss of access to management or advise employees that the union will fine them for talking to management and cause restrictions on smoke breaks if they win, they will not send workers home before the end of their shifts to punish them for supporting the union and they will refrain from discriminating against workers for their pro-union activity.

The reason this notice is being posted is because the employer did all the things this notice says should not be done. But the union busters did other things that were not picked up in the notice. They cozied up to workers offering them cigarettes and snacks. They provided tacos to the Latinos and other food to the others. They spread rumors about the union organizers. They called the police one day during a leaflet distribution.

If this is what an employer can do during an "ambush" election imagine what the workers would have to undergo over a longer and protracted pre-election period. And, consider the courage of the workers who take all of this on in an effort to get a union to improve their conditions of life. They deserve our respect and support.

Miller Cohen is proud to have worked with Darieus Fenklea, the accomplished Local 600 organizer, in getting this election overturned.

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