Nov 16, 2008

Union Busting 101

Union busting is by definition a practice, considered by some to be unethical, undertaken by an employer. It is the process which some employers may use to prevent their employees from joining a labor union. Another form of union busting is firing an already organized workforce and hiring non-union labor.

In todays WA PO story: "Fenty, Rhee Look for Ways Around The Union" (By Bill Turque, page C01) states that the Mayor and Chancellor are considering restoring the District's power to create nonunionized charter schools and possibly seeking federal legislation declaring the school system a "state of emergency" , a move that (the Post) reports would eliminate the need to bargain with the Washington Teachers' Union. Could their strategy be union busting ? Before you answer, here are some of the tactics of typical union busters. Sound vaguely familiar to what's happening in DC? You tell me?

Tactics of Union Busters:

INCREASES IN PAY: They tell you that you don't need the union to get wage increases.

LET'S BE PALS: They set up meetings with union members citing : don't let the union get in the way of our wonderful relationship.

ONE-ON-ONES: Management may call you in for face-to-face talks about the union.

DIVIDE AND CONQUER: They will try to play one group against the other: "Disloyal" union supporters against "loyal pro-employer" union opponents; older vs. younger, men vs. women, one department against another - whatever works for them.

VOTE-YES COMMITTEE: A small group of employees might be set up to "stand up" for the employer. They want to "save" the organization from the Union. The Union Buster is behind this committee and is training the leaders to destroy the union.

SCARE TACTICS: They threaten to fire you, outsource jobs, make jobs at will . They blame employees for all the agency's shortcomings.

Bad Press About the Union: They paint an ugly picture of the union in the press.

Sam Smith of DC City Desk tells yet another heartfelt union busting story of a former DC teacher Harold Cox who was fired at the beginning of school year 2008. I think this story is worth posting for all to read. This story provides a glimpse into Fenty and Rhee's tactics which robs our students of many qualified DC teachers who happen to be union members . Like Cox, DC blind teachers - Denise Hamilton and Fred Kamara ( as reported on The Washington Teacher) also lost their teaching jobs this school year. Lost count already of how many certified DC teachers were terminated from their jobs - I know I have ! Here is Sam Smith's story in its entirety:

"Former DC teacher Harold Cox is the definition of a dedicated teacher. A twenty-one year teaching veteran, Cox worked hard inside and outside the classroom, frequently staying late after class to work with students and lobbying DC City Council to address problems in the schools. So Cox was shocked when he was fired, without any explanation, at the beginning of the school year. Like hundreds of other summarily-dismissed teachers, aides and principals, Cox was forced to reapply for his position as part of DC School Chancellor Michelle Rhee and Mayor Adrian Fenty's controversial plan to fix the ailing DC public schools.

But Cox now says that he thinks "Rhee was brought in to break the union" and that the "hiring process had little to do with guaranteeing teaching standards and everything to do with strong-arming teachers to make concessions union have fought off for years." For example, when Cox re-applied for his job, he discovered that the principal of the school was insisting that teachers "sign an agreement which included extending teaching hours," a clear violation of their union contract. When Cox refused to sign, he "was sent packing." (Posted by The Washington Teacher). Union busting information courtesy of labor union resources.


Jerri said...

You make great points. I also saw your article in The Mail this Sunday. Keep up your efforts on behalf of DC teachers.

Peace said...

Parents with children in Public Education in the United States have to get a petition for their classroom teacher to say the pledge with a group of children in a public school building. As reported on CNN.Right hand over heart !

Right hand over Heart said...

Rhee educational reform is a vision of Charter and antonomus schools.That perspective is not a good fit for public education and it clashes like the Red Skins and Dallas Cowboy's. Two seperate teams in a ballgame.Perhaps Rhee would be better off in design of her own antonomus schools.

Anonymous said...

I was shocked by this story since I am Harold Cox and I have not been fired as of today's date (11/25/08) I don't know who this Sam person is but he has his story wrong!!!