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‘How Much Are Your Favorite Companies Spending On’ Union-Busting Consultants?

Published Friday, November 12, 2021
by Jacob Rosenberg/Mother Jones
‘How Much Are Your Favorite Companies Spending On’ Union-Busting Consultants?

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - Employers will pay a lot to ensure they don’t have to actually pay the people who work for them.  To illustrate that face, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) has issued a report showing that in more than 40% of Union Election Campaigns, employers are charged with violating laws.

This includes employers threatening, firing, disciplining or retaliating against Workers trying to form a Union- actions that occur “routinely,” Study Co-Author Celine McNicholas said.

The report also shed a light on a growing, but still fairly obscure element of the Union-Busting Playbook: spending millions on consultants for “Union Avoidance.” 

Three quarters of employers involved in Union Elections, by one estimate, hire Anti-Union consultants.  These firms include IRI Consultants, recently hired by Google, and the anodyne-sounding Labor Relations Institute, which the report says is one of the Nation’s largest Union-Avoidance Firms.

Go check out their white papers – you’ll see that one asks: “What Can Your Business Learn from the Iraq War?”

It offers strategies from the invasion of Iraq to “be ready to use in case you are targeted by Union Organizers.”

Sure, it notes, you can take the comparison too far, but “there are similarities in the underlying strategies of a guerilla insurgency and a Union Organizing Campaign.”

The report estimates that companies spend $340 million a year on Anti-Union consultants, some of whom charge $350-plus hourly rates or $2,500-plus daily rates.

The total figure is based on the LM-20 and LM-21 forms filed with the Federal Government that track consultant rates on projects and yearly contracts.

Noting that these disclosures have been shown to represent only about 7.4% of the industry, researchers extrapolated from this data.

But the $340 million could be an underestimate.

In 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor announced a loosened requirement for filing LM-21s.

The next year, the report notes, there was a 38% drop in LM-21s.

The report highlights a few employers that have spent money on Union Avoidance, among them: The Albert Einstein Medical Center (2014-2017), $1.1 million; The Associated Grocers of New England (2014-2017), $190,000; Bed Bath & Beyond (2014, 2018), $506,000; Caterpillar (2014-2016), $279,000; FedEx (2014-2018), $837,000; Hilton Grand Vacations (2014-2015), $340,000; J.B. Hunt Transport (2016-2018), $354,000; the Laboratory Corporation of America (2014-2018), $4,300,000; Mission Foods (2016-2017), $2.9 million; Nestle, USQ (2014-2018), $566,000; Owens Corning (2014-2017), $340,000; Pier 1 Imports (2015-2016), $169,000; Quest Diagnostics (2015-2017), $200,000; Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (2014-2016), $316,000; The Simmons Bedding Company (2015-2017), $848,000; The Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas (2015-2016), $569,000; and UPS (2014-2018), $311,000.

To Directly Access This Labor News Report, Go To: And Check Out The Full EPI Report Here.


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