The VICE Guide to Spotting Union Busting

Here’s how to see through your bosses’ bullshit.
JK
Philadelphia, US
union busting bingo card
Bingo card by VICE graphics team

As workers at Amazon, Starbucks, and Apple stores fight to unionize and inspire others to join forces, management is fighting back, trying to tamp down the organizing actions, even at companies that tout their “progressive values.”

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Some recent union-busting tactics: REI released a podcast that begins with pronouns and land acknowledgments, and then pivots to classic anti-union talking points. A leaked memo from Apple warns workers could face “fewer opportunities” and less “flexibility” if they unionize. 

Teachers at a school founded by the Blue Man Group are on strike because the school will not recognize their union, even after teachers overwhelmingly voted to unionize. The nominally progressive school teaches a unit on labor unions.

Work has changed a lot since the 1950s, when more than one in three workers were in a union. But the tactics that management uses to discourage labor organizing and crush union campaigns have hardly changed a bit. 

You might even be seeing some of these anti-union tactics at your own job. So for this episode of Vice News Reports, we made you a guide to spotting union busting. We talk to Lauren Kaori Gurley, who’s been reporting on labor at Motherboard during this surge in union organizing and who has seen these tactics in action. And we play a game of union-busting bingo, to help listeners see through their bosses’ bullshit.