Turning Trash into Gold
Management didn’t initially know who I was when I came through the door. This didn’t last long…
I made sure that the management staff became VERY aware of my presence, subtly at first, and without disrupting the workers enthusiasm. The same way that I knew EVERYTHING there was to know about the worker’s; I knew just as much (and probably more) about the management staff. I knew where they lived and what their spouses did fora living. I knew what social clubs they belonged to and which churches they attended.
I knew what schools their children attended and the ages and grades of the children. I was able to find the management staff on aweekend in an amusement park. I always made sure that they were quite aware of the personal information that I had acquired. As a parent, you will be less likely to take action when someone like me knows so much about your children.
But you have to understand, I was entrenched in battle and management was the enemy. This was a war I was not going to lose. So it really didn’t matter what management thought of me or how they feared me. It was my job to “protect” the worker. The average person does not know how the business works so a management package with money and benefits always looks atrocious. I believed that I was helping even though I had no real commitment to do so. I just needed for the workers to believe that I did. After some time, I became the “professional persuader”. Once management knew there was a union movement, the battlefield challenge wasn’t to persuade the employee anymore; it was tocreate issues and intimidate the management staff who wanted me out.
I started carefully at first with a vice president of a company (which shall remain nameless). I allowed him to see me in the parking lot of his office one night. I made sure that he saw me, and I made surethat he saw me looking directly at him. The following night, I waited in the same spot, but this time, I didn’t let him see me until I was in front of his house. I wanted him to know that I knew where he lived. This time we made eye contact, but it was in front of his house, while he stood in his driveway, with his family was inside. The third night I didn’t follow him at all. However there was a car beeping in front of his house at three in the morning. He never did see me that night, but definitely thought about me when he opened his eyes at that hour. That’sexactly what I wanted. I didn’t want him to have proof that I was there, because eventually he would then be able to pull his employees over to his side to talk to them. This time, he wouldn’t be talking bad about a union but probably would have no opinion. My way was subtle, andI made sure that the employees already knew me and trusted me. And why would they ever believe management anyway? Management didn’t care about their needs, but I did.
My surveillance methods were just that, they were methods. They were carefully calculated and methodical plans designed so that I could succeed. Battle plans that eventually led to victory after victory untilwe had that first contract in hand.
As a professional persuader, I had to work both sides of the fence. I had to gain the trust of the employees to challenge management and I had to persuade management to “allow” me to gain the employee trust. This is a skill that was not taught in any university. As a unionorganizer, fear became my greatest asset and I shamelessly used it on every single campaign. I knew that emotions were the most powerful weapons in my arsenal and I would go for the throat every time. Our motto was “if you can’t win their support, neutralize them by any means necessary!”
*Confessions of a Union Organizer is a bi-monthly publication depicting real life experiences inside some of today’s largest labor unions and how they truly organize workers.