UNION BUSTING 101

UNION BUSTING 101

It’s possible Lee Enterprises/Berkshire Hathaway Media Group
will fight our efforts to unionize.

There are a variety of tactics companies are known to utilize as they fight organizing efforts. They could hire a union-busting consulting firm or they may send our managers to union-busting seminars. They may recruit a few employees to campaign against the union. The company could try to use misinformation to mislead or divide staffers, saying a union will cause pay cuts, layoffs and strikes.

Companies often pay thousands of dollars per employee to keep the union out rather than putting that money into better pay, benefits and working conditions for employees. Strategies used in previous anti-union campaigns have included circulating false information about unions, making promises or offering some employees more compensation in exchange for not forming the union. Usually, however, management does not follow through with promises or even later rescinds pay increases.

Managers or outside consultants could pull you into offices, alone or in groups, with the goal of talking you out of unionizing. Be prepared. Know your rights. Don’t fall for it. Try to record any such conversations. That’s legal in Nebraska.

Some things the company may say to discourage
us from forming a union:

The national union is just a business, and it just wants your dues.

We asked the NewsGuild-Communication Workers of America to help us organize, guide us through legal issues and provide expertise in the bargaining process. They will not collect dues until a union contract is finalized, and all decisions are ultimately made locally, through a democratic process, at the newsroom level. The national union will help us to advocate for pay increases and other benefits we couldn’t achieve on our own.

A union will divide our close-knit newsroom.

Lee Enterprises is a large corporation that first and foremost cares about its profit margins, not its people. We don’t think a union should prevent us from having strong working relationships with our bosses, both locally and at the corporate level. We want to have a say in the decisions that affect us all. The union and management are on the same team: We want to protect and promote The World-Herald so we can all continue to produce award-winning journalism that enlightens and informs our community.

Unionizing could cost you future raises — or jobs.

Some World-Herald employees have already gone a decade without a raise. A union would make a raise more likely, not less likely. Once we have a seat at the table, we’ll be able to negotiate with our managers and get any promises in a legally binding contract. During anti-union campaigns, companies have been known to offer raises as incentives not to unionize. But without a contract, what can be given can be taken away. There are no promises until we have a contract.

You’ll have to strike.

Strikes are extremely rare at newspapers. The vast majority of the time, contract negotiations end without a strike. Other newspapers have successfully delivered a message to management in other ways, like withholding bylines from stories, using social media or holding a demonstration before or after work. We would strike only if an overwhelming majority of the newsroom voted to do so.