Organizing Professionals and White Collar Employees

Unions are also making inroads into traditionally hard to organize worker segments like professionals and white collar workers a even these employees see their job security and perquisites under attack. Recent report of IBM sending systems analysts jobs ahead abroad, of Merrill Lynch having more security analysis done abroad by foreign nationals, and of hospitals having digitized rays read and interpreted by doctors abroad illustrate the concerts many professionals have. As noted above, thousands of teachers, doctors, nurses and professionals have already joined unions, and employers’ continuing attempts to squeeze ever productivity out of these workers may well prompt more to consider doing so. Several years ago Boeing began focusing more on cost cutting, and financial results and (from its engineer’s point of view) less on engineering excellence. Engineers morale reportedly dropped, and Boeing as caught by surprise when its engineers joined the Seattle Professionals Engineering Employees Association.

New Union Tactics

Unions are also becoming much more aggressive. Unions are pushing Congress to pass the employees fresh choice act. This would among other things make it lore difficult for employers to inhibit workers from trying to form a union. Unions are also pushing for a new means of obtaining union recognition Instead of secret ballots elections; they want a card check system. Here the union would win recognition when a majority of workers signed authorization card saying they want to union. Several large companies, including Cingular Wireless agreed to the card check process Unions are also using class action lawsuits to support employees in non-unionized companies so as to pressure employers. For example unions recently used class action lawsuits to support workers claims under the fair labor standards act, and the equal act.

The steps that UNITE too against Cintas Corp illustrate some of the union’s new aggressive tactics. In their organizing effort against Cintas UNITE did not petition for an NLRB election. Instead, UNITE proposed using the card check process. They also filed $ 100 million class action suit against the company in support of its sales representatives. Then Cintas workers in California filed a lawsuit claiming that the company was violating an nearby municipality living wage law. UNITE then joined forces with the Teamsters union, which in turn began targeting Cintas delivery people.

Change to win

The priorities of the change to win Coalition (whose members broke off from AFL- CIO) help illustrate what may be the new union strategies, they

make it our first priority to help millions more workers form unions so we can build a strong movements or rewarding work in America unite the strength of everyone who works in the same industry so we can negotiate with today’s global corporations for everyone’s benefit; reflect the diversity and commitment to change of today’s workforce build a growing independent voice for working people in politics based on economic issues and party, modernize the strategies structure and priorities of the APL-CIO to make these changes possible.

In practice this means several things. Change to Win will be very aggressive about in organizing workers, will focus on organizing women and minority workers, will focus more on organizing temporary or contingent workers and will target specific multinational companies for international campaigns.

Other unions are taking a different tack. For years the head of Ford’s united auto workers unions fought hard for increased benefits for his members. But recently he’s been urging his colleagues to accept productivity enhancing plans, such as outsourcing Ford’s factory jobs to lower paid workers. Ford is in a desperate situation, he says and if this company goes down I want to be able to look in the mirror and say I did everything I could.