Labor opens drive against anti-union employers AFL-CIO trying to lower obstacles to organizing

June 25, 1998|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

The AFL-CIO kicked off a campaign yesterday to highlight labor's argument that the right of workers to join unions is being unfairly undercut by fierce employer hostility and by laws that labor leaders say do little to protect workers seeking to unionize.

The labor federation has begun the campaign in an effort to embarrass fervently anti-union employers and to pressure Congress to strengthen labor laws by, for example, increasing penalties for employers who dismiss workers for supporting unions.

For labor leaders, the campaign is important because they hope that it will reduce some obstacles to organizing at a time when labor's stepped-up efforts to recruit millions of workers have failed to catch fire.

The AFL-CIO, with 13 million members, sponsored rallies in more than 70 cities yesterday to focus the public's attention on the issue.

In San Francisco, hundreds of union supporters demonstrated to protest a Marriott hotel's resistance to a unionization drive. In North Carolina, farm workers rallied to pressure Mount Olive Pickle Co. to stop fighting unionization.

At rally after rally, speakers talked about how companies frequently dismissed workers who headed unionization drives and how the courts often did not order them reinstated until years later, often after the organizing drives had fizzled.

The labor federation cited a study by a Cornell University researcher who found that 75 percent of private-sector employers aggressively oppose unions, that 80 percent hire anti-union consultants, that 32 percent dismiss workers involved in organizing drives and that 50 percent threaten to close plants if workers choose a union.

Pub Date: 6/25/98

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