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Changing to Organize: A National Assessment of Union Organizing Strategies

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[Excerpt] In this chapter we seek to answer the following questions: Why has it been so difficult for unions to turn the organizing efforts and initiatives of the last six years into any significant gains in union density? Why have a small number of unions been able to make major gains through organizing? And most importantly, which organizing strategies will be most effective in reversing the tide of the labor movement's organizing decline?What our findings will show is that while the political, legal, and economic climate for organizing continues to deteriorate, and private sector employers continue to mount aggressive opposition to organizing efforts, some unions are winning. Our findings also show that the unions that are most successful at organizing run fundamentally different campaigns, in both quality and intensity, than those that are less successful, and that those differences hold true across a wide range of organizing environments, company characteristics, bargaining unit demographics, and employer campaign variables.
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Cornell University ILR School
DigitalCommons@ILR
Articles & Chapters ILR Collection
1-1-2004
Changing to Organize: A National Assessment of
Union Organizing Strategies
Kate Bronfenbrenner
Cornell University, klb23@cornell.edu
Robert Hickey
Cornell University
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Bronfenbrenner , Kate and Hickey, Robert , "Changing to Organize: A National Assessment of Union Organizing Strategies" (2004).
Articles & Chapters. Paper 54.
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D
CHANGING TO ORGANIZE
A NATIONAL ASSESSMENT OF UNION STRATEGIES
Kate Bronfenbrenner and Robert Hickey
In 1995 "changing to organize" became the mantra of a newly invigorated
labor movement. There was talk of building a national organizing fund,
recruiting thousands of new young organizers, and organizing millions of
workers in new occupations and industries. In the years that followed, the
AFi-CIO and its affiliates engaged in an aggressive effort to increase their
organizing capacity and success. Staff and financial resources were shifted into
organizing; leaders, members, and central labor bodies were mobilized to
support organizing campaigns; and hundreds of new organizers were
recruited from college campuses and the rank and file.
By 1999, it appeared that these efforts and initiatives were paying off
when the media reported a net gain of 265,000 in union membership-
the first such gain in more than twenty years (AFi-CIO 2000). But this would
not last. Even leaving aside the tragic and unusual events of September
11, 2001, it is clear that despite all the new initiatives and resources being
devoted to organizing and all the talk of "changing to organize:' American
unions have been standing still at best. The major victories have been
highly concentrated in a few unions (SEIU, HERE, UNITE, CWA, AFSCME,
and UAW) and industries (healthcare, building services, hotels, airlines,
telecommunications, and higher education), while the majority of unions
continue to experience organizing losses and declining membership (BNA
PLUS 2001).
18 Kate Bronfenbrenner and Robert Hickey
In this chapter we seek to answer the following questions: Why has it been
so difficult for unions to turn the organizing efforts and initiatives of the last
six years into any significant gains in union density? Why have a small number
of unions been able to make major gains through organizing? And most
importantly, which organizing strategies will be most effective in reversing the
tide of the labor movement's organizing decline?
What our findings will show is that while the political, legal, and economic
climate for organizing continues to deteriorate, and private sector employers
continue to mount aggressive opposition to organizing efforts, some unions
are winning. Our findings also show that the unions that are most successful
at organizing run fundamentally different campaigns, in both quality and
intensity, than those that are less successful, and that those differences hold
true across a wide range of organizing environments, company characteris-
tics, bargaining unit demographics, and employer campaign variables.
PREVIOUS ORGANIZING RESEARCH
Industrial relations research has provided important insights regarding the
influence of environmental factors, company characteristics, and employer
behavior on the outcome of NLRB certification elections (Farber and Western
2001; Kochan, Katz and McKersie 1994; Freeman and Kleiner 1988; Maranto
and Fiorito 1987; Rose and Chaison 1990). This research has also deepened
our understanding of the factors shaping attitudes toward unions and
the individual union voter decision making process (Jarley and Fiorito
1991; Freeman and Rogers 1999; Weikle, Wheeler and McClendon 1998).
Another stream of research has focused on the impact that institutional
characteristics of unions have on organizing success (Fiorito, Jarley and
Delaney 1995; Hurd and Bunge 2002). Yet, with the exception of a handful of
studies, most quantitative organizing research has failed to capture the criti-
cal role played by union strategies in organizing campaigns (Bronfenbrenner
1997a; Bronfenbrenner and Juravich 1998; and Peterson, Lee, and Finnegan
1992).
A small but growing body of qualitative case study research does explore
the role of union strategies in the organizing process, exposing the interac-
tions between environmental factors, employer behavior, and union strategies
(Hoerr 1997; Waldinger and Erickson et al. 1998; Sciacchitano 1998; Juravich
and Hilgert 1999; Delp and Quan 2002). By capturing the dynamic role of
union strategies, this research also provides much needed insight into how the
organizing process actually develops. However, this literature suffers from the
limitations of case study designs that can capture only a small number of
organizing campaigns, representing the most dramatic or interesting cases
Changing to Organize 19
(and almost all victories), and as such, are often unrepresentative of union
organizing behavior.
Bronfenbrenner's survey of 261 private-sector NLRB certification elections
in 1986 and 1987 was the first detailed study of the role of union tactics in
organizing and first contract campaigns (Bronfenbrenner 1993; 1997a). The
study showed that unions were more likely to win NLRB elections if they
used rank-and-file intensive tactics such as person-to-person contact, active
representative committees, member volunteer organizers, solidarity days, and
building for the first contract before the election. This research also found that
union tactics as a group had a more significant impact on election outcomes
than other groups of variables that have been the traditional focus of indus-
trial relations research, such as election environment, bargaining unit demo-
graphics, and employer characteristics (1993; 1997a). This was an important
finding, because some researchers (such as William Dickens 1983) had argued
that union tactics were entirely reactive-determined solely by management
tactics. Subsequent quantitative studies of both private-sector NLRB elections
and public-sector organizing campaigns have reinforced Bronfenbrenner's
earlier research (Bronfenbrenner 1997 c, 2000, and 2002; Bronfenbrenner and
Juravich 1998; Juravich and Bronfenbrenner 1998).
However, in the more than ten years since this research was initiated, a
great deal has changed in the economy, employer behavior, and the labor
movement itself. Workers in almost every industry face more sophisticated
employer opposition to organizing that is coupled with dramatic increases in
corporate restructuring, foreign trade and investment, and shifts in work and
production to other companies and other countries (Bronfenbrenner 2000,
2001). As Bronfenbrenner and Juravich found in their study of 1994 NLRB
campaigns, traditional organizing approaches and the isolated use of innova-
tive tactics have decreased in effectiveness (1998). Although some individual
tactics, such as representative committees, workplace job actions, and media
campaigns have a statistically significant positive impact on election out-
comes, other tactics, such as house-calling the majority of the unit, holding
solidarity days, staging rallies, or running a community campaign, did not
have a significant impact. Yet, when these variables were combined into a
single union tactics variable, adding one unit for each additional tactic, the
probability of the union winning the election increased by as much as 9
percent for each additional tactic used. This suggests that the effectiveness of
union tactics is strategically significant when unions combine tactics in a more
comprehensive campaign.
In the years following the 1994 study, research by Bronfenbrenner and
others has continued to show that comprehensive union tactics still hold the
key to successful organizing efforts. Unions that use a broad range of union
tactics as part of a multifaceted comprehensive strategy display greater organ-
20 Kate Bronfenbrenner and Robert Hickey
lzmg success across all
employer characteristics
Sherman and Voss 2000).
Sherman and Voss (2000), in their study of local union organizing in
Northern California, argue that the implementation of innovative tactics, such
as rank-and-file intensive organizing and strategic targeting, requires far-
reaching organizational transformation. Without such organizational trans-
formation, unions may use some innovative tactics, but are unlikely to
integrate a comprehensive union-building strategy. Indeed, Sherman and Voss
found that the locals using a comprehensive union-building strategy are also
the most innovative organizationally. This challenge to transform organiza-
tionally in order to fully implement innovative tactics suggests one reason
why the dispersion of comprehensive union-building strategies has been so
limited.
industries, bargaining unit demographics, and
and behaviors (Bronfenbrenner 1997 c, 2002;
RESEARCH METHODS
The data analyzed in this chapter were collected as part of a larger study com-
missioned in May 2000 by the United States Trade Deficit Review Commis-
sion to update Bronfenbrenner's previous research on the impact of capital
mobility on union organizing and first contract campaigns in the U.S. private
sector (Bronfenbrenner 1997b, 2000). Using surveys, personal interviews, doc-
umentary evidence, and electronic databases, we compiled detailed data on
election background, organizing environment, bargaining unit demographics,
company characteristics and tactics, labor board charges and determinations,
union characteristics and tactics, and election and first contract outcomes for
412 NLRB certification election campaigns held in 1998 and 1999.
Our original random sample of 600 elections was derived from data com-
piled by the Bureau of National Affairs (BNA) of all NLRB single-union cer-
tification election campaigns in units with fifty or more eligible voters that
took place in 1998-1999 (BNA PLUS 2000).1 For each case in the sample we
conducted in-depth surveys of the lead organizer for the campaign by mail
and phone. We also searched computerized corporate, media, legal, and union
databases, and reviewed Security and Exchange Commission filings, IRS
990 forms, and NLRB documents to collect data on company ownership,
structure, operations, employment, financial condition, unionization, and
employer characteristics and practices.
We were able to complete surveys for 412 of the 600 cases in the sample,
for a response rate of 69 percent. Further, we were able to collect corporate
ownership, structure, and financial information for 99 percent of the 412
cases. NLRB data were compiled from the FAST database for 65 percent of the
Changing to Organize 21
136 cases where NLRB charges were filed, while NLRB ~ocuments were col-
lected for 46 percent. Summary statistics for the sample reveal that it is rep-
resentative of the population of all NLRB certification elections in units over
fifty that took place in 1998-1999 in terms of both industry and outcomes
(BNA Plus 2000).
Descriptive statistics were calculated for a wide range of variables in order
to capture the nature and extent of union and employer organizing activity
and the broader context in which they operate. In addition, binary logistic
regression was used to determine whether the number of comprehensive
union-building strategies has a statistically significant impact on certification
election outcome when controlling for the influence of election background,
company characteristics, bargaining unit demographics, and employer
opposition.
THEORETICAL MODEL AND HYPOTHESES
e
This research builds on the theoretical model developed by Bronfenbrenner
(1993), and Bronfenbrenner and Juravich (1997) in previous organizing
studies. According to this model, environmental factors plus union and
employer characteristics and strategies combine to affect the election outcome
both indirectly as they moderate the effect of other factors and directly as they
influence worker propensity to vote for the union.2 Under this model, union
organizing tactics are an extremely important element of the organizing
process. They play just as much-if not even a greater-role in determining
election outcome than environmental factors and company characteristics
and tactics.
This study tests two hypotheses. The first is that union success in certifica-
tion elections depends on a comprehensive union-building strategy that
incorporates the following ten elements, each of which is a cluster of key union
tactics, that we argue are critical to union organizing success in the current
environment: (1) adequate and appropriate staff and financial resources, (2)
strategic targeting, (3) active and representative rank-and-file organizing
committees, (4) active participation of member volunteer organizers, (5)
person-to-person contact inside and outside the workplace, (6) benchmarks
and assessments to monitor union support and set thresholds for moving
ahead with the campaign, (7) issues which resonate in the workplace and in
the community, (8) creative, escalating internal pressure tactics involving
members in the workplace, (9) creative, escalating external pressure tactics
involving members outside the workplace, locally, nationally, and/or
internationally, (10) building for the first contract during the organizing
campaign.3
"
e
2
22 Kate Bronfenbrenner and Robert Hickey
This model expands upon Bronfenbrenner and Juravich's 1998 study by
arguing that in the current organizing environment it is not enough to use as
many union tactics as possible; rather, certain strategic elements, each com-
prised of clusters of key tactics, are essential ingredients for union organizing
success. These strategic elements, which we will call comprehensive organiz-
ing tactics, may each be associated with higher win rates and/or have statisti-
cally significant positive effects on election outcomes. However, given the
hostile climate in which unions must operate, we hypothesize that the use of
these individual comprehensive organizing tactics will not be enough. Instead,
union gains will depend on a multifaceted campaign utilizing as many of the
ten comprehensive organizing tactics as possible. We hypothesize that the like-
lihood a union will win an election significantly increases for each additional
comprehensive organizing tactic used by the union.
Our second hypothesis is that differences in the quality and intensity of the
campaigns between unions are a better predictor of differences in election
outcomes for those unions than employer opposition, bargaining unit demo-
graphics, or company or industry characteristics. We do not suggest that
industry, corporate structure, unit type, worker demographics, or employer
opposition do not matter. As our previous research has shown, all of these
factors have a very powerful and significant impact on union win rates
(Bronfenbrenner 1997a, 1997c, 2001; Bronfenbrenner and Juravich 1998).
Indeed, it is more difficult to organize mobile industries, such as metal pro-
duction and fabrication, garment and textile, food processing, and call centers,
in the current global trade and investment climate. It is also more difficult to
organize subsidiaries of large multinational corporations that have the
resources to launch a full-scale counterattack against the union campaign.
Furthermore, higher paid, primarily white male, blue collar, white collar, and
professional and technical occupations are more difficult to organize in the
current climate, because they tend to be more invested in the internal labor
markets and more affected by threats of job loss or blacklisting that are typical
in employer campaigns today (Bronfenbrenner 1997a; 2001). Although indus-
try, unit type, worker demographics, and employer characteristics and tactics
matter, union tactics matter more, because unions have so far to go before
they live up to their full potential. While the majority of unions today run
very weak campaigns with no underlying strategy, the majority of employers
run very strategic campaigns, taking full advantage of the range of effective
anti-union tactics available to them, and adapting and tailoring those tactics,
depending on the organizing environment and the union's campaign.
If all unions were running aggressive comprehensive campaigns, and win
rates continued to vary across the organizing environments in which indi-
vidual unions operate, then these differences in organizing environment
would play the primary role in explaining the variance in organizing success
~y Changing to Organize 23
lCS,
between unions. Instead, we hypothesize that the more successful unions owe
their organizing victories to the nature, quality, intensity, and comprehen-
siveness of their campaigns, across a diversity of industries, companies, bar-
gaining units, and employer campaigns. Similarly, unions with lower win rates
lose more elections because of the lack of intensity, quality, and comprehen-
siveness of the campaigns they run, rather than the organizing environment
in which they operate.
We first test the hypotheses by comparing means, frequencies, and win rates
for each of the comprehensive organizing tactics that make up our model,
both individually and as part of the additive comprehensive organizing tactics
variable. This will allow us to see whether, in accordance with our first hypoth-
esis, win rates improve as the number of comprehensive organizing tactics
increases. We will also test different combinations of comprehensive organiz-
ing tactics in order to ensure that all of the elements of our model contribute
to union organizing success when added together with the other elements of
the model. Next, we will compare means, frequencies, and win rates for
company characteristics, bargaining unit demographics, and employer behav-
ior in campaigns where unions used a comprehensive union-building strat-
.egy, including more than five of the comprehensive organizing tactics listed
above, as compared to campaigns where unions used five or fewer compre-
hensive organizing tactics.4 This will allow us to see both the nature of the
environment in which unions are organizing today and whether, in accor-
dance with our second hypothesis, union win rates increase across different
industry, company, unit, and employer characteristics when the union runs
more comprehensive campaigns.
We then will use binary logistic regression to test the hypothesis that the
odds of winning the election will significantly increase for each additional
comprehensive organizing tactic used, when we control for election back-
ground, employer characteristics, bargaining unit demographics, and
employer tactics. We will also standardize the logistic regression coefficient in
order to further test the relative effects of each of the statistically significant
variables. We will use two models. Model A will include each of the individ-
ual elements of the comprehensive strategy, while model B will substitute a
number of union tactics adding one point for each additional comprehensive
tactic used. As described in appendix 1.2, the following control variables (with
their predicted impact) will be included in both models: number of eligible
voters (+/_);5 manufacturing sector (-); subsidiary of a larger parent company
(-); ownership change before the election (+);6 good to excellent financial con-
dition (+)/ board determined unit (-); other organized units (+); profes-
sional, technical, or white collar unit (-); unit at least 60 percent women (+);
unit at least 60 percent workers of color (+);8 and number of employer tactics
used (-).
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24 Kate Bronfenbrenner and Robert Hickey
We will further test the second hypothesis by examining frequencies,
means, and win rates across unions. This will allow us to evaluate the relative
intensity and quality of union campaigns for each union and assess which
unions are most likely to use each of the comprehensive organizing tactics in
our model. It will also allow us to compare win rates across unions, depend-
ing on the number of comprehensive organizing tactics used, to see whether
differences in union win rates are associated with the number of comprehen-
sive organizing tactics they use.
ELEMENTS OF THE COMPREHENSIVE UNION-BUILDING STRATEGY
According to our hypotheses, each of the ten tactical clusters, or comprehen-
sive organizing tactics in our model enhances the union's organizing power
in a unique way. Unions that allocate adequate and appropriate staff and
financial resources,9 for example, make an institutional commitment to be
more intensely ,engaged in the campaign, recruit staff who are demographi-
cally representative of the workers they organize, and run more campaigns.
Unions that engage in strategic targeting have approached organizing as a
means to build bargaining power within certain sectors and industries, in con-
trast to the non-strategic "hot shop" organizing approach. Perhaps the single
most important component of a comprehensive campaign is an active repre-
sentative committee that gives bargaining unit members ownership of the
campaign and allows the workers to start acting like a union inside the work-
place, building trust and confidence among the workforce and counteracting
the most negative aspects of the employer campaign.
The use of member volunteers to assist in organizing campaigns reflects a
combination of greater institutional integration of current and potential new
members and an emphasis on a worker-to-worker approach to organizing.
Person-to-person contacts made inside and outside the workplace enhance
the union's organizing power by providing the intensive one-on-one contacts
necessary to build and sustain worker commitment to unionization both at
home and in the increasingly hostile election environment at work. The com-
bination of benchmarks and assessments allows unions to evaluate worker
support for the union at different stages of the campaign in order to better
adjust their strategy to the unit they are trying to organize and to set thresh-
olds to determine when, and whether, they are ready to move on to the next
stage of the campaign.
A focus on issues that resonate with the workers and the community, such
as respect, dignity, fairness, service quality, and union power and voice, is
essential both to build worker commitment to withstand the employer
campaign and to gain community support. Internal pressure tactics allow the
yChanging to Organize 25
l-
union to start acting like a union before the election takes place, building sol-
idarity and commitment among the workers being organized and restraining
employer opposition. External pressure tactics, which exert leverage on the
employer both in the local community and in their national or international
operations, are essential to organizing in the increasingly global corporate
environment. Finally, building for the first contract before the election helps
build confidence in the workers being organized, showing them what the
union is all about and signaling to the employer that the union is there for
the long haul.
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RESULTS: DESCRIPTIVE STATISTICS
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Table 1.1 provides summary statistics on the election background and
outcome for the 412 elections in our sample. In an improvement over past
years, these data suggest that today's unions are beginning to target and win
in slightly larger units. With an election win rate of 44 percent, first contract
rate of 66 percent, and average unit size of 192 eligible voters, the percentage
of eligible voters who gain coverage under a contract has increased to 37
percent, compared to less than 25 percent in the early 1990s (Bronfenbrenner
2001,2002).
Stilt this progress must be put in perspective. At a time when union density
in the private sector has dropped below 10 percent and total private sector
employment continues to increase by an average of 2.1 million workers each
year (Bureau of Labor Statistics 2002), a 9 percent increase in the unit size of
elections won is simply not enough. If unions are going to reverse the tide of
union density decline, they will need to target units of 5,000, or 10,000 or
more; significantly increase the number of organizing campaigns; and dra-
matically increase the percentage of eligible voters who gain coverage under
a union contract.
The overall drop between the percentage of the unit who signed cards
before the petition was filed and the percentage of the unit who actually ended
up voting for the unit remains quite high (17 percentage points). However, in
winning units, where the percentage of card signers averages as high as 71
percent, the percent union vote is only five percentage points lower (66
percent). 10
ld
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lCh COMPREHENSIVE ORGANIZING TACTICS
,IS
'yer
the Table 1.1 also lists the frequencies and win rates associated with the ten com-
prehensive organizing tactics included in our strategic model. As predicted,
TABLE
1.1
Comprehensive organizing tactics and election outcome
Proportion or Proportion or mean Proportion or mean
mean of elections of elections won of elections lost Win rate*
Election background
All elections 1.00 1.00 1.00 .45
1998 .49 .54 .51 .42
1999 .51 .46 .49 .47
Elections lost by union .56 .00 1.00 .00
Elections won by union .44 1.00 .00 1.00
First contract achieved .30 .66 .02
Average number of eligible voters 192 201 185
Total number of eligible voters 79,167 36,706 42,461
50-99 eligible voters .41 .39 .42 .43
100-249 eligible voters .42 .43 .42 .45
250-499 eligible voters .12 .12 .12 .45
500 or more eligible voters .05 .06 .05 .50
Percent union vote .49 .66 .35
Percent signed cards before petition filed .66 .71 .62
Comprehensive organizing tactics
Adequate and appropriate staff and financial resources .14 .21 .09 .64 (.41)
Strategic targeting .39 .45 .34 .51 (.40)
Active representative rank-and-file committee .26 .33 .21 .56 (.41)
Effectively utilized member volunteer organizers .27 .31 .23 .52 (.42)
Person-to-person contact inside and outside the workplace .19 .23 .16 .53 (.43)
Benchmarks and assessments .24 .35 .14 .66 (.38)
Issues which resonate in the workplace and community .23 .25 .21 .49 (.43)
Escalating pressure tactics in the workplace .37 .42 .33 .50 (.41)
Escalating pressure tactics outside the workplace .17 .18 .16 .48 (.44)
Building for the first contract before the election .35 .39 .31 .50 (.42)
Proportion or Proportion or mean Proportion or mean
mean of elections of elections won of elections lost Win rate"
2.60 3.11 2.19
.14 .10 .17 .32
.19 .12 .25 .28
.21 .22 .20 .47
.16 .15 .16 .43
.15 .18 .13 .53
.06 .08 .04 .63
.06 .09 .04 .62
.02 .03 .01 .67
.01 .03 .00 1.00
.14 .10 .17 .32 (.47)
.77 .75 .77 .44 (.46)
.10 .15 .06 .68 (.42)
DUIIUlllt; IV! lll~ .1.1.l0\. \...vU.\...I.u.,-,- v""''''''''''''''''''' ---------
TABLE 1.1-cont.
Number of comprehensive organizing tactics used
Zero
One
Two
Three
Four
Five
Six
Seven
Eight
Union used no comprehensive organizing tactics
Union used one to five comprehensive organizing tactics
Union used more than five comprehensive organizing tactics
"Number in parenthesis equals win rate when characteristic or action is not present.
28 Kate Bronfenbrenner and Robert Hickey
each of the individual elements in the model are associated with win rates that
average between 4 to 28 percentage points higher than in campaigns where
they are not used. Most dramatic are the win rates associated with adequate
and appropriate resources (64 percent when present, 41 percent when not
present), active representative committee (56 percent when present, 41
percent when not present), and benchmarks and assessments (66 percent
when present, 38 percent when not present). The smallest differences are asso-
ciated with issues that resonate in the workplace and community (49 percent
when present, 43 percent when not present) and external pressure tactics (48
percent when present, 44 percent when not present). This is to be expected,
given that escalating external pressure tactics tend to be only used in cam-
paigns with aggressive employer opposition, while the effectiveness of issues
is highly dependent on the tactics unions use to get their message across.
Although organizer training programs and materials have been emphasiz-
ing the importance of these tactics for more than a decade (CWA 1985;
Diamond 1992), these data suggest that even today only a small number of
unions are actually using them, and those that do so tend to use them in
isolation, not as part of a comprehensive multifaceted campaign. Most sig-
nificantly, in light oflabor's much touted effort at "changing to organize:' there
has been only a minimal increase in the use of these tactics, both individually
and in combination since 1995.
As shown in table 1.1, only 14 percent of all the union campaigns in our
sample devoted adequate and appropriate resources to the campaign, only 19
percent engaged in person-to-person contact inside and outside the work-
place, and only 17 percent engaged in escalating pressure tactics outside the
workplace. Fewer than 30 percent had active representative committees or
effectively used member volunteer organizers, while fewer than 25 percent
used benchmarks and assessments or focused on issues that resonate in the
workplace and broader community. The highest percentages were found for
strategic targeting (39 percent), escalating pressure tactics inside the work-
place (37 percent), and building for the first contract before the election is
held (35 percent).
All of the comprehensive organizing tactics in our model were much more
likely to be used in winning campaigns than in losing ones. For example, only
9 percent of losing campaigns devoted adequate and appropriate resources,
compared to 21 percent of winning campaigns, while 33 percent of winning
campaigns had active representative committees, compared to only 21 percent
of losing campaigns.
Consistent with earlier research (Bronfenbrenner and Juravich 1998), the
results for number of comprehensive organizing tactics used suggest that the
overwhelming majority of unions continue to pick and choose individual
tactics, in most cases without any coherent plan or strategy, rather than pulling
wy Changing to Organize 29
flat them together into a more comprehensive, multifaceted strategy. Fourteen
percent of all campaigns and 17 percent of losing campaigns used no
comprehensive organizing tactics, while only 10 percent of all campaigns, and
6 percent of losing campaigns, used more than five tactics. This occurred
despite the fact that, in accordance with our hypothesis, union win rate$
increase dramatically as the number of comprehensive organizing tactics
increase, ranging from 32 percent for no comprehensive organizing
tactics, to 44 percent for one to five tactics, to 68 percent for more than five
tactics, and 100 percent for the 1 percent of the campaigns where unions used
eight tactics.
We also tested a series of different combinations of six comprehensive
organizing tactics from the ten elements of our model, making sure to include
all of the different elements in an equal number of combinations so that, out
of a total of 51 different combinations, each element was included in 31 com-
binations. As described in appendix 1.4, we found that for almost every
different combination of six tactics, win rates increased for each additional
comprehensive organizing tactic used.ll The average win rates for all the com-
binations start at 32 percent, increasing to 38 percent for one tactic, 48 percent
for two, 55 percent for three, 60 percent for four, 78 percent for five, and 93
percent for six tactics. Similarly, win rates range from a minimum 29 percent
and a maximum of 38 percent for elections where no tactics in the combina-
tion were used, to a minimum of 67 percent and a maximum of 100 percent
for six tactics. While some tactics, such as representative committee, have a
greater impact on win rates than others, these data suggest that each of the
ten comprehensive organizing tactics playa key role in improving union
organizing success when used in combination with other comprehensive
organizing tactics in the model. These findings also show that resources alone
cannot be used as a proxy for comprehensive campaigns, because win rates
increase as the number of comprehensive organizing tactics increase even for
those combinations that do not include the resource variable.12
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)nly CORPORATE STRUCTURE AND COMPANY CHARACTERISTICS
'ces, Table 1.2 provides an overview of the characteristics of companies involved
in certification election campaigns. The findings suggest that unions organiz-
ing today are operating in a much more global, mobile, and rapidly changing
corporate environment. The majority of union private-sector organizing cam-
paigns continue to be concentrated in relatively small units in U.S.-owned-
for-profit companies. However, in the last five years there have been significant
shifts in the industrial sector and ownership structure of private sector com-
panies where organizing is taking place, reflecting both changes in union tar-
1Illg
cent
,the
: the
dual
lling
TABLE 1.2
Company characteristics, union tactics, and election outcome
Elections with more than Elections with five or
All elections five union tactics fewer union tactics
Proportion Proportion Proportion
Proportion or mean of Proportion or mean of Proportion or mean of
or mean of elections Win or mean of elections Win or mean of elections Win
elections won rate* elections won ra te* elections won rate*
Industrial sector
Manufacturing .33 .22 .30 .20 .19 .63 .34 .22 .28
Service sector .43 .55 .57 .70 .70 .68 .40 .52 .55
Other sectors** .25 .24 .42 .10 .11 .75 .26 .26 .41
Mobile industry
Mobile .47 .36 .34 .23 .19 .56 .50 .39 .33
Immobile .53 .64 .54 .78 .82 .71 .50 .61 .51
Ownership structure
Subsidiary of larger parent .84 .77 .41 (.63) .83 .78 .64 (.86) .84 .76 .38 (.61)
Non-profit .23 .30 .58 .40 .33 .56 .21 .30 .58
For profit .77 .70 .40 .60 .67 .75 .79 .70 .37
Publicly held .40 .30 .33 .35 .33 .64 .41 .30 .31
Privately held .37 .39 .48 .25 .33 .90 .48 .40 .45
TABLE 1.2-cont.
Elections with more than Elections with five or
All elections five union tactics fewer union tactics
Proportion Proportion Proportion
Proportion or mean of Proportion or mean of Proportion or mean of
or mean of elections Win or mean of elections Win or mean of elections Win
elections won rate* elections won rate* elections won rate*
Global structure
U.S.-based, all sites U.S. .33 .34 .45 (.44) .20 .26 .88 (.63) .35 .35 .43 (.42)
U.S.-based multinational .31 .28 .39 (.47) .33 .37 .77 (.63) .31 .26 .35 (.45)
Foreign-based multinational .12 .08 .29 (.46) .08 .04 .33 (.70) .13 .09 .29 (.44)
Any foreign sites, operations, suppliers or .55 .56 .45 (.44) .70 .67 .64 (.75) .54 .54 .42 (.42)
customers
Financial condition
Good to excellent .65 .63 .43 .53 .56 .71 .68 .64 .41
Fair to poor .35 .37 .47 .48 .44 .63 .34 .36 .44
Unionization
Other organized units as same site .15 .22 .65 (.41) .35 .33 .64 (.69) .13 .21 .65 (.38)
Other organized units at other locations .60 .63 .47 (AI) .73 .67 .62 (.82) .59 .63 .45 (.38)
Unit is located in AFL-CIO union city .12 .16 .59 (.42) .28 .33 .82 (.62) .11 .14 .53 (.41)
Previous attempt to organize this unit .46 .44 .43 (.46) .53 .56 .71 (.63) .45 .42 .39 (.44)
Pre-campaign company practices
Threat of full or partial plant closing .21 .17 .35 (.47) .33 .33 .69 (.67) .20 .14 .29 (.45)
Employee involvement program before election .31 .28 .40 (.47) .30 .29 .58 (.71) .32 .28 .38 (.44) .
Ownership change in two years before the election .18 .22 .55 (.42) .25 .30 .80 (.63) .18 .21 .51 (.40)
,.. Number in parenthesis equals win rate when characteristic or action is not present.
** Othe1 sectors include communications, retail and wholesale trade, transportation, construction, utilities, and sanitation.
32 Kate Bronfenbrenner and Robert Hickey
geting strategies and changes in corporate ownership and corporate structure
worldwide (Bronfenbrenner 200 1).
These data confirm that unions are shifting their focus from organizing
targets in manufacturing sector industries with high levels of capital mobil-
ity, such as garment and textiles, electronics, and auto parts, toward less
mobile service sector industries such as health care, social services, education,
and laundries. UNITE, for example, which in past years concentrated most of
its organizing in textile and apparel manufacturing, where plant closing
threats during organizing campaigns are universal and the number of plants
closed and jobs lost has increased steadily each year, has shifted its focus to
laundries and distribution warehouses where the ability of employers to move
work out of the country is much more restricted (Bronfenbrenner 2001).
As shown in table 1.2, this shift by UNITE and other unions is also reflected
in the frequency of elections in mobile (47 percent) versus immobile (53
percent) industries. The overwhelming majority of campaigns using more
than five comprehensive organizing tactics are concentrated in immobile
industries (78 percent). This suggests that unions are failing to utilize com-
prehensive organizing tactics in the especially difficult environment of mobile
industries where these tactics are needed most.
Compared to five years ago, companies targeted for organizing campaigns
are 50 percent more likely to be subsidiaries of large multinational parent
companies. They are also much more likely to have foreign sites and locations,
foreign suppliers and customers, and less likely to have all sites and operations
based in the u.s. Today only one-third of all campaigns occur in for-profit
companies with all sites and operations based in the U.S., while 23 percent
take place in non-profit companies such as hospitals, social service agencies,
or educational institutions, more than double the number of campaigns in
non -profits in the early to mid -1990s (Bronfenbrenner 2001). This reflects
both the surge in organizing activity among unions who normally dominate
the non-profit sector, such as SEIU, and a renewed effort among traditionally
public sector unions such as AFT and AFSCME to follow public sector work
as it is shifted to the private, non-profit sector. It also reflects a continuing
trend among industrial and building trades unions to branch out into the
non-profit sector in search of organizing gains they have found difficult to
achieve in their own industries.
The attraction of non-profit companies is not surprising given that organ-
izing win rates average as high as 58 percent, compared to a 40 percent win
rate for for-profit companies. Among for-profit companies, win rates are
highest for U.S.-based companies with all sites in the U.S. (45 percent), and
lower for foreign-based multinationals (29 percent) and U.S.-based multi-
nationals (39 percent). Win rates are also much higher (63 percent) in the 16
percent of the companies in the sample that are not a subsidiary of a larger
ey Changing to Organize 33
lre parent company, compared to a 41 percent win rate for companies that are
subsidiaries.
As difficult as organizing in the for-profit sector has become, the findings
described in table 1.2 suggest that, consistent with our second hypothesis,
unions are much more likely to overcome the negative impact of capital
mobility and corporate restructuring if they run a comprehensive campaign,
incorporating more than five of the comprehensive organizing tactics in our
model. While the overall win rate is only 30 percent in manufacturing and 34
percent in mobile industries, it increases to 63 percent in manufacturing and
56 percent in mobile industries when the union runs campaigns using more
than five comprehensive organizing tactics. Similarly, the win rates increase
twenty to thirty percentage points in campaigns in subsidiaries of larger
parent companies, for-profit companies, and U.S.-based multinationals in
which the union uses more than five comprehensive organizing tactics.
The exception is in foreign-based multinationals where we found just a
minimal increase in win rates (from 29 percent to 33 percent) for campaigns
where the union used more than five comprehensive organizing tactics. On
closer inspection these findings are not surprising. Not only were foreign-
based multinationals much more likely to run aggressive anti-union cam-
paigns, but also the very fact that the company is foreign owned, with sites
and operations in other countries, serves as an unspoken threat to workers
that their employer might quite readily shift operations out of America if they
were to try to organize. Neither are foreign-based companies as vulnerable to
the community-based pressure tactics that have been found to be effective for
U.S.-based companies. Instead, they may require a much more global and
extensive campaign that takes the union's cause to the country and commu-
nity where the company is headquartered. Yet not one of the campaigns in
foreign-based multinationals in our sample ran a global campaign and only
10 percent ran any kind of external pressure campaign.
As would be expected, given that all of these elections occurred during the
period of high corporate profitability in the late 1990s, 65 percent of compa-
nies in our sample were in good or excellent financial condition. 13 Overall, win
rates were lower in companies in good to excellent condition than in other,
units, reflecting the fact that those employers have greater resources to
improve conditions for workers and to devote to an aggressive anti-union
campaign. However, consistent with our second hypothesis, this effect disap-
pears entirely in units where the union used more than five comprehensive
organizing tactics, bringing the win rate up in companies in good to excellent
financial condition from 43 percent to 71 percent.
Table 1.2 also provides background information on the union environment
in which these campaigns occurred. Only 15 percent of the units in our sample
had other organized units at the same location as the unit being organized.
ng
,il-
~ss
>n,
of
ng
(1ts
to
we
ted
:53
)re
)ile
m-
)ile
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ent
Ins,
)ns
ofit
ent
les,
; III
xts
late
ally
ork
llng
the
t to
~an-
WIll
are
and
llti -
e 16
rger
34 Kate Bronfenbrenner and Robert Hickey
Consistent with previous research (Bronfenbrenner 1997a, 1997b), union win
rates are much higher in such units (65 percent) both because of the greater
access and information available to the union and because the unorganized
workers have a ready-made example of what a union can accomplish in their
workplace. A much larger percentage of companies in our sample (60 percent)
had other organized units at other sites and locations of the company, either
in the United States or abroad. Win rates were only slightly higher in these
units. However, when the union used more than five comprehensive organiz-
ing tactics the win rate increased from 47 percent to 62 percent.
Twelve percent of the campaigns in our sample were located in one of the
fourteen communities where the Central Labor Council (CLC) had met the
criteria to be designated a Union City by the AFL-CIO.14 Not surprisingly,
given the higher level of successful organizing activity and labor-movement
support for organizing activity in Union Cities, win rates go up to 59 percent
in campaigns in Union Cities, and to a more impressive 82 percent in cam-
paigns with more than five union tactics. This suggests that Union Cities create
a climate that serves to support and reinforce the effectiveness of most of the
tactics in our model-including more union resources available to organiz-
ing, more training opportunities for organizers, and more community and
union support and leverage to embolden workers to vote for the union and
discourage the employer from running an aggressive anti-union campaign. IS
For nearly half of the campaigns in our sample (46 percent), there had been
a previous (unsuccessful) attempt to organize the unit. Overall, win rates are
slightly lower in these units (43 percent) than in units where there was no
previous attempt to organize the unit (46 percent). However, win rates in
campaigns with previous organizing attempts increase to 71 percent if the
union ran a comprehensive campaign using more than five of the tactics in
our model.
Table 1.2 also presents findings on company practices before the organiz-
ing campaign took place. Nearly a third of the units already had an employee
involvement or team system in place before the election, while 21 percent had
had threats of full or partial plant closure, and 18 percent reported changes
in company ownership. Consistent with earlier research (Bronfenbrenner
1997b; 2000) both pre-campaign employee involvement programs and
pre-campaign plant closing threats were associated with win rates 7 to 12 per-
centage points lower than in units where they were not present. However,
when unions ran aggressive campaigns that used more than five comprehen-
sive organizing tactics, win rates increased to 58 percent for pre-campaign
employee involvement programs and 69 percent for pre-campaign plant
closing threats, as compared to win rates of 38 percent (employee involve-
ment) and 29 percent (plant closing threats) in campaigns where the union
used five or fewer tactics.
ey Changing to Organize 35
ed
In contrast, changes in company ownership were associated with win rates
13 percentage points higher than in units where there had been no change in
ownership prior to the campaign. This may be because cJ;1anges in company
ownership are more likely to be associated with practices such as job combi-
nations, wage and benefit reductions, and increases in the pace of work which,
in combination, may motivate workers to initiate a union campaign and vote
for a union (Bronfenbrenner 2000). The positive effect on election outcome
is intensified where unions are able to capitalize on worker dissatisfaction by
running a comprehensive campaign, increasing from 55 to 80 percent when
unions use more than five comprehensive organizing tactics.
m
er
~lr
It)
ler
~se
lZ-
he
he
~ly,
~nt
~nt
BARGAINING UNIT CHARACTERISTICS
are
no
Table 1.3 summarizes the characteristics of the bargaining units in our
sample, providing important information on the demographics of workers
organizing under the NLRB. While today 44 percent of workers involved in
NLRB election campaigns are in blue collar production, maintenance, and
skilled trades units, 17 percent are in professional, technical, and white collar
units, and 19 percent are in service and maintenance or non-professional
units.
As expected, win rates are highest in service and maintenance and non-
professional units (68 percent), while they average 33 percent in production
and maintenance and skilled trades units, 44 percent in professional, techni-
cal, and white collar units. Consistent with our second hypothesis, these dif-
ferences in win rates become much less significant in campaigns where the
union used more than five comprehensive organizing tactics, increasing to 60
percent for production and maintenance and skilled trades units, 58 percent
in professional, technical, and white collar units, 79 percent in service and
maintenance and non-professional units, and 100 percent in drivers units.
While some research has suggested that more aggressive organizing tactics
may be less effective among professional, technical, and white collar units than
in production and maintenance or service and maintenance units (Cohen and
Hurd 1998; Hurd and Bunge 2002; Hoerr 1997), the comprehensive organiz-
ing tactics in our model appear to be equally effective in improving win rates
across a wide range of bargaining unit types, including clerical, technical, and
professional workers. For example, although these studies have suggested that
escalating pressure tactics in the workplace may be problematic for profes-
sional/technical and white collar workers, pressure tactics are associated with
win rates 12 percent higher for professional, technical, and white-collar units
relative to campaigns where they were not used. Of course, in any given cam-
paign specific concerns and issues may apply, and tactics must be tailored and
m-
ate
the
.1Z-
.nd
.nd
1.15
~en
m
the
;m
llZ-
'yee
bad
1ges
ner
and
)er-
ver,
len-
ngn
lant
lve-
lIon
TABLE 1.3
Unit characteristics, union tactics, and election outcome
Elections with more than five Elections with five or fewer
All elections comprehensive organizing tactics comprehensive organizing tactics
Proportion Proportion Proportion
Proportion or mean of Proportion or mean of Proportion or mean of
or mean of elections Win or mean of elections Win or mean of elections Win
elections won rate* elections won rate* elections won rate*
Unit type
Drivers .10 .10 .46 .01 .07 1.00 .10 .10 .43
Production/maintenance/skilled trades .44 .32 .33 .25 .22 .60 .47 .35 .31
Professional/technical/white collar .17 .17 .44 .30 .26 .58 .16 .15 .41
Service/ main tenance/ non -professional .19 .28 .68 .35 .41 .79 .17 .26 .65
Wall to wall .10 .10 .49 .05 .04 .50 .10 .12 .49
Board determined unit different than .08 .06 .33 (.45) .08 .07 .67 (.68) .08 .06 .30 (.43)
petitioned for
Average wage $10.94 $10.60 $10.27 $9.37 $11.01 $10.82
Average wage less than $8/hour .22 .26 .53 (.42) .30 .33 .75 (.64) .21 .24 .49 (.40)
Average wage $8-$1l/hour .46 .47 .47 (.45) .41 .46 .75 (.61) .47 .31 .44 (.43)
Average wage more than $12/hour .30 .26 .39 (.49) .28 .19 .46 (.75) .31 .27 .38 (.46)
Gender
Percent women in unit .46 .55 .69 .70 .44 .52
No women in unit .10 .10 .45 (.45) .05 .07 1.00 (.66) .10 .10 .42 (.43)
1-49 percent women in unit .40 .28 .31 (.54) .10 .07 .50 (.69) .43 .07 .31 (.51)
50-74 percent women in unit .20 .20 .46 (.45) .25 .22 .60 (.70) .19 .21 .44 (.42)
75 percent or more women .30 .42 .62 (.37) .60 .63 .71 (.63) .27 .38 .60 (.35)
Race and ethnic background
Percent workers of color in unit .39 .44 .56 .63 .37 .41
No workers of color in unit .10 .09 .43 (.45) .00 .00 .11 .11 .43 (.43)
1-49 percent workers of color .51 .46 .40 (.50) .40 .30 .50 (.79) .53 .49 .40 (.46)
50-74 percent workers of color .14 .14 .46 (.45) .15 .19 .83 (.65) .13 .13 .41 (.43)
75 percent or more workers of color .25 .31 .56 (.41) .45 .52 .78 (.59) .23 .27 .51 (.39)
Percent women of color .19 .26 .38 .47 .17 .23
No women workers of color .19 .19 .43 (.45) .05 .08 1.00 (.65) .21 .21 .42 (.42)
1-49 percent women workers of color .60 .51 .38 (.55) .46 .31 .44 (.86) .62 .55 .37 (.50)
50-74 percent women workers of color .10 .14 .60 (.43) .23 .23 .67 (.67) .09 .12 .58 (.41)
75 percent or more women workers of color .07 .13 .82 (.42) .21 .31 1.00 (.58) .06 .10 .75 (.40)
Percent undocumented workers .02 .02 .04 .04 .02 .01
Percent recent immigrants .05 .05 .12 .14 .04 .04
Percent non-English speaking .15 .16 .27 .31 .14 .14
*Number in parenthesis equals win rate when characteristic or action is not present.
Changing to Organize 37
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adapted accordingly. However, our data suggest that, when we look generally
across the diversity of workers and occupations who make up the pro-
fessional/technical workforce-from nurses, to engineers, to basketball
players-win rates increase, rather than decrease, when unions run more
comprehensive campaigns.
Our findings in table 1.3 also confirm that organizing is increasingly con-
centrated in units with a majority of women and people of color. Only 10
percent of the units are all male or all white, while women make up the major-
ity in half the units and workers of color make up the majority in 39 percent
of the units.
Consistent with earlier research, win rates increase substantially as the pro-
portion of women and people of color increases. The highest win rates are 82
percent for units with 75 percent or more women workers of color, while win
rates are lowest in units where women (31 percent) or workers of color (40
percent) constituted a minority of the unit. Once again, win rates increase
dramaticaliy across race and gender groupings when the union uses more than
five comprehensive organizing tactics in the campaign, suggesting that our
model is equally appropriate across a diversity of demographic groups.
The higher win rates in these units mean that not only are women and
workers of color (in particular, women of color) participating in union elec-
tions in ever increasing numbers, but because win rates are so much higher
in these units, the vast majority of new workers coming into the labor move-
ment today are women and people of color.
Win rates are also higher (53 percent) in the 22 percent of the units where
the average wage was less than $8.00 per hour, while win rates are lowest (39
percent) in units with an average wage of more than $12.00 an hour. These
higher wage units tend to include more white, male, blue collar, white collar,
and professional and technical employees, all groups less predisposed to
unions than their non-white, female counterparts in non-professional, largely
service, occupations (Bronfenbrenner 1993; Freeman and Rogers 1999). As
mentioned earlier, these highly paid workers are also more vulnerable to
employer threats of job loss and blacklisting. While win rates increase from
39 to 46 percent, in the 24 percent of the campaigns in these units whe~e the
union uses more than five comprehensive union tactics, they might increase
even further if more of the campaigns in these units utilized a more compre-
hensive organizing strategy.
Like the data on company characteristics, the descriptive statistics for unit
characteristics support our hypothesis that the use of a comprehensive organ-
izing strategy can greatly reduce differences in win rates across unit type,
average wage, gender, race, and ethnic background.
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EMPLOYER BEHAVIOR
As described in table 1.4, consistent with earlier research, the overwhelming
majority of employers in our sample aggressively opposed the union's organ-
izing efforts through a combination of threats, discharges, promises of
improvements, unscheduled unilateral changes in wages and benefits, bribes,
and surveillance. Individually and in combination, these tactics are extremely
effective in reducing union election win rates. Fifty-two percent of all employ-
ers in our sample and 68 percent of those in mobile industries made threats
of full or partial plant closure during the organizing drive. Approximately one
in every four employers (26 percent) discharged workers for union activity,
while 48 percent made promises of improvement, 20 percent gave unsched-
uled wage increases, and 17 percent made unilateral changes in benefits and
working conditions. Sixty-seven percent of the employers held supervisor
one-on-ones with employees at least weekly, 34 percent gave bribes or special
favors to those who opposed the union, 31 percent assisted the anti-union
committee, and 10 percent used electronic surveillance of union activists
during the organizing campaign. Employers threatened to refer undocu-
mented workers to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in 7
percent of all campaigns and in 52 percent of cases where undocumented
workers were present.
Only 27 percent of the employers in our sample ran weak campaigns using
fewer than five tactics. Forty-eight percent of the employers ran moderately
aggressive anti-union campaigns using five to nine tactics, and 26 percent of
the employers ran extremely aggressive campaigns using at least ten tactics.
Employers ran no campaign whatsoever against the union in only 3 percent
of the cases in our sample, 93 percent of which were won by the union.
Although most of the findings regarding employer behavior are consistent
with earlier research, the percentages for some of the most egregious em-
ployer actions, such as discharges for union activity, have slightly declined
(Bronfenbrenner 2001). However, rather than suggesting any reduction in
employer opposition to union organizing efforts, these findings on employer
behavior are primarily a function of the shift in union organizing activity
toward non-profit companies. Although some non-profit employers, particu-
larly hospitals and universities, have long been known for their opposition to
unions and the substantial resources they spend on anti-union campaigns, the
nature of their anti-union campaigns are quite different than those in for-
profit companies, because non-profits are much more accountable and acces-
sible to the clients they serve. Thus, while non-profit employers are more likely
to use extensive unit challenges and public media campaigns, they are less
likely to engage in more clearly identifiable illegal tactics such as discharges
for union activity, bribes, or illegal unilateral changes in wages than their
u
CI
<
I-
TABLE 1.4
Employer campaign, union tactics, and election outcome
Elections with more than five Elections with five or fewer
All elections comprehensive organizing tactics comprehensive organizing tactics
Proportion Proportion Proportion
Proportion or meall of Proportion or mean of Proportion or mean of
or mean of election Win or mean of elections Win or mean of elections Win
elections won rate" elections won rate" elections won rate"
Hired management consultant .76 .69 .41 (.55) .80 .82 .69 (.63) .75 .67 .38 (.55)
Held more than five captive audience meetings .46 .38 .37 (.51) .53 .48 .62 (.74) .46 .37 .34 (.49)
Mailed more than five letters .17 .14 .38 (.46) .30 .22 .50 (.75) .15 .13 .36 (.43)
Distributed more than five anti-union leaflets .42 .35 .37 (.50) .65 .63 .65 (.71) .40 .30 .32 (.48)
Held supervisor one-on-ones at least weekly .67 .60 .40 (.54) .85 .78 .62 (1.00) .65 .56 .37 (.52)
Established employee involvement program .17 .13 .33 (.47) .18 .11 .43 (.73) .17 .13 .32 (.44)
Made positive personnel changes .34 .30 .39 (.47) .50 .48 .65 (.70) .32 .27 .35 (.45)
Made promises of improvement .48 .37 .35 (.54) .63 .59 .64 (.73) .46 .33 .30 (.52)
Granted unscheduled raises .20 .18 .40 (.46) .35 .33 .64 (.69) .18 .15 .34 (.44)
Made unilateral changes .17 .16 .41 (.45) .28 .26 .64 (.69) .16 .14 .37 (.43)
Discharged union activists .26 .24 .41 (.46) .35 .30 .57 (.73) .25 .22 .39 (.43)
Used bribes and special favors .34 .29 .38 (.48) .43 .48 .77 (.61) .33 .26 .33 (.46)
Used electronic surveillance .10 .10 .44 (.45) .28 .26 .64 (.69) .08 .07 .40 (.42)
Held company social events .21 .18 .38 (.46) .38 .37 .67 (.68) .19 .14 .31 (.44)
Assisted anti-union committee .31 .25 .36 (.48) .38 .30 .53 (.76) .30 .24 .34 (.45)
Used paid or free media .07 .08 .56 (.44) .20 .22 .75 (.66) .05 .06 .47 (.42)
Laid off or contracted out workers in unit .08 .14 .58 (.43) .13 .15 .80 (.66) .10 .14 .55 (.40)
Threatened to report workers to the INS .07 .07 .43 (.45) .13 .07 .40 (.71) .07 .07 .44 (.42)
Involved community leaders/politicians .06 .06 .42 (.45) .13 .15 .80 (.66) .05 .04 .32 (.43)
Filed ULP charges against the union .02 .02 .50 (.44) .05 .04 .50 (.68) .02 .02 .50 (.42) ,
Threatened to close the plant .52 .44 .38 (.51) .63 .63 .68 (.67) .50 .41 .34 (.50)
Number of tactics used by employer 7.21 6.27 10.18 9.59 6.88 5.70
Employer
used
0-4 tactics .27 .38 .64 .13 .11 .60 .28 .43 .64
Employer used 5-9 tactics .48 .42 .39 .35 .48 .93 .49 .41 .35
Employer used at least 10 tactics .26 .20 .34 .53 .41 .52 .23 .16 .29
"Number in parenthesis equals win rate when characteristic or action is not present.
b"' ~1'7' (") O
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counterparts in the for-profit sector. At the same time, for-profit employers
have maintained their aggressive opposition to union organizing efforts. For
example, employers discharged workers for union activity in only 14 percent
of campaigns in non-profits compared to a 29 percent discharge rate in cam-
paigns in for-profit companies. Nine percent of employers in non-profits used
no anti-union tactics at all compared to less than 1 percent of employers in
for-profit companies. Similarly, only 15 percent of non-profits used more than
ten anti-union tactics compared to 21 percent of for-profit companies.
Overall, the win rate drops to 39 percent for units where employers used
five to nine tactics and 34 percent where they used more than ten, compared
to 64 percent where they used fewer than five tactics. At a time when unions
are running more aggressive and sophisticated campaigns, and workers' trust
in corporations is declining, in some units the aggressive anti-union behavior
of employers may reach a point of diminishing returns. This is particularly
evident in elections where the union uses more than five comprehensive
organizing tactics. Win rates for most of the individual employer tactic vari-
ables increase between 10 and 40 percent when unions used more than five
comprehensive organizing tactics, while unions won 100 percent o( the cam-
paigns with no employer opposition, 60 percent of the campaigns with weak
employer opposition, 93 percent with moderate opposition, and 52 percent of
the campaigns with aggressive employer opposition. This occurs despite the
fact that employers are much more likely to run aggressive campaigns when
they think the union is going to win, than in campaigns where the union cam-
paign is weak, and there is little chance of union victory.
These data confirm that while the majority of employers run aggressive
campaigns taking full strategic advantage of a broad range of anti-union
tactics, the majority of unions continue to run fairly weak campaigns, even
when faced with aggressive employer opposition. Indeed, there were only two
campaigns in our sample, where, when faced with aggressive employer oppo-
sition, unions used more than six comprehensive organizing tactics. Both of
those elections were won. Thus, consistent with our hypotheses, although
employer anti-union campaigns can and often do have a devastating impact
on union organizing success, unions can increase their win rates, even in the
face of the most aggressive employer opposition, if they run comprehensive
campaigns. 16
UNIONS AND COMPREHENSIVE ORGANIZING STRATEGIES
According to our hypotheses, unions that run comprehensive organizing cam-
paigns, combining a large number of the tactics in our model, will achieve
higher wins across a wide range of employer tactics and industry, company,
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Changing to Organize 41
'JY,
and unit characteristics. Therefore, we would expect to see higher win rates
for those unions that consistently employ comprehensive campaigns, relative
to those unions that use only a few tactics in isolation.
Nevertheless, there are certain kinds of workers, in certain kinds of com-
panies and industries, faced with different levels of employer opposition, who
can be especially difficult to organize. Whether CWA in high tech and telecom-
munications, the UAW in auto-transplants and auto-parts, the USWA in metal
production and fabrication, UNITE in garment and textile, IATSE in cable tel-
evision, the IBT in national trucking companies, or the UFCW in food pro-
cessing, some unions face much greater challenges when organizing in their
primary jurisdictions, because they are confronted with more mobile, more
global, and more powerful and hence effective employer opposition, and/or a
workforce less predisposed to unionization (Bronfenbrenner 2001). Yet, our
second hypothesis is that unions can improve their organizing success, even
in the toughest industries, companies, and bargaining units, when they use a
comprehensive union-building strategy.
Table 1.5 provides summary statistics for the most active unions organiz-
ing under the NLRB. The unions that dominate NLRB election activity con-
tinue to be IBT, SElU, USWA, UAW, and UFCW. Among these unions, there
are substantial differences in win rates.I? Yet, as predicted, these differences
fade, when unions use more than five comprehensive organizing tactics. For
almost all the unions in our sample, across a diversity of industries and bar-
gaining unit characteristics the win rates average above 67 percent or higher
when the union uses more than five comprehensive tactics. 18
What is perhaps most striking about these results is how few unions are
actually running comprehensive campaigns. As shown in table 1.6, the unions
tend to fall into three groups. The first group, which includes HERE, SEIU,
and UNITE, averages four or more tactics in all of their elections. The second
group, which includes AFSCME, CWA/IUE, DBC, LIDNA, UAW, and UFCW,
averages three tactics per campaign. The third group, which includes lAM,
lBEW, lBT, lUOE, PACE, and USWA, averages two or fewer tactics in each
campaign. It is striking that even the most successful unions in our sample
are still making only limited use of the comprehensive campaign model,
while the majority of U.S. unions continue to run fairly weak, ineffectual
campaIgns.
Only the unions in the first group consistently run organizing campaigns
that combine at least four strategic tactics. The overall win rate for this group
is 63 percent, the highest for any group, increasing to 74 percent when they
use more than five comprehensive tactics. These unions, SEIU, HERE, and
UNITE have gained national reputations for effective organizing. And yet only
30 percent of their campaigns average more than five comprehensive organ-
izing tactics. This suggests that these unions may be capable of winning
11-
~ve
TABLE 1.5
Union, union tactics, and election outcome
Elections with more than five Elections with five or fewer
All elections union tactics union tactics
Proportion Proportion Proportion
Proportion or mean of Proportion or mean of Proportion or mean of
or mean of elections Win or mean of elections Win or mean of elections Win
Union elections won rate elections won rate elections won rate
AFSCME .04 .06 .59 .05 .04 .50 .04 .06 .60
CWA/IUE .04 .02 .20 .03 .00 .00 .04 .02 .21
HERE .02 .03 .50 .10 .11 .75 .02 .01 .33
lAM .02 .02 .33 .03 .00 .00 .02 .02 .38
IBEW .02 .03 .56 .00 .02 .03 .56
IBT .20 .17 .37 .03 .04 1.00 .22 .19 .37
IUOE .02 .02 .44 .00 .02 .03 .44
LIUNA .02 .02 .30 .00 .03 .02 .30
PACE .03 .02 .31 .00 .04 .03 .31
SEIU .14 .20 .63 .40 .41 .69 .11 .16 .61
UAW .06 .09 .64 .00 .07 .10 .64
UBC .02 .01 .25 0 .02 .01 .25
UFCW .07 .06 .33 .10 .04 .25 .07 .06 .35
UNITE .02 .03 .67 .08 .11 1.00 .02 .02 .50
USWA .09 .09 .43 .08 .11 1.00 .09 .08 .38
Other AFi-CIO building trades unions* .03 .01 .18 .00 .03 .01 .18
Other AFi-CIO industrial unions* .05 .02 .20 .03 .00 .00 .05 .03 .21
Other AFi-CIO service sector unions* .02 .03 .56 .00 .02 .03 .56
Other AFi-CIO transportation unions* .02 .03 60 .03 .04 1.00 .02 .03 .56
iocal and national independent unions* .07 .08 .48 .08 .11 1.00 .07 .07 .42
Unions that average four or more comprehensive .18 .26 .63 .58 .63 .74 .14 .19 '.57
organizing tactics
Unions that average three comprehensive organizing .36 .35 .44 .28 .22 .55 .37 .37 .43
tactics
Unions that average two or fewer comprehensive .46 .39 .38 .15 .15 .67 .49 .44 .37
organizing tactics
* Other AFL-CIO transportation unions include ATU, ILWU, MEBA, SIUNA, and TWU. Other AFL-CIO building trades unions include BTCT, OPCM, and PPE Other AFL-CIO service
sector unions include AFT, IATSE, and OPEIU. Other AFL-CIO industrial unions include AFGW, BBF,BCTWU, GCIU, GMMPAW, NPW, SMW, and UMW. The national independent unions
include ANA, IWW, NEA, NBPA, UE, UGSOA, and UTU. The remaining independent unions are designated by the NLRB as local independents.
TABLE 1.6
Comprehensive organizing tactics by union
Percent of campaigns
Number Rank & Workplace External
of file Building
Member I-on -1 pressure pressure for first
Unions tactics Resources Targeting committee volunteers contact Benchmarks Issues tactics tactics contract
Unions that average four or more 4.07 .34 .71 .37 .30 .32 .41 .34 .46
comprehensive organizing tactics .39 .42
UNITE 4.22 .44 .44 .56 .33 .44 .67
HERE .22 .33 .33 .44
4.20 .90 .60 .10 .20 .50 .40 .00 .40 .40
SEIU 4.02 .23 .77 .70
.39 .32 .26 .37 .42 .49 .40 .37
Unions that average three 2.93 .18 .44 .27 .27 .23 .27 .28 044
comprehensive organizing tactics .17 .40
AFSCME 3.24 .35 .53 .47 .29 .24 .29 .35 Al .05 .24
Other AFL-CIO transportation 3.20 .20 .40 .30 .20 .10 .50 .30 .40 .20
unions'"
.60
LIUNA 3.10 .10 .50 .20 .10 .40 .20 .30 040 .20 .70
UFCW 3.10 .30 .40 .27 .13 .43 .37 .17 .33 .13 .57
Other AFL-CIO building trades 3.00 .00 .55 .09 .46 .27 .18 .09 .36 .09
unions'"
.64
UAW 2.92 .08 .44 .32 .44 .08 .24 .32 .76 .16 .08
CWA/IUE 2.73 .07 .60 .13 .27 .20 .20 .20
UBC 2.63 .33 .40 .33
.00 .63 .00 .38 .25 .25 .13 .25 .13 .63
Local and national independent 2.62 .17 .28 .24 .28 .14 .17 .41 .38 .17
unions'"
.38
,.. Other AFL-CIO transportation unions include ATU, ILWU, MEBA, SIUNA, and TWU. Other AFL-CIO building trades unions include tHC!, Ul'CNl, ana 1:'1:'1:<.VlIlel rl.rL-,--LV 'CLVl'-'-
sector unions include AFT, IATSE, and OPEIU. Other AFL-CIO industrial unions include AFGW, BBF, BCTWU, GCm, GMMPAW, NPW, SMW, and UMW. The national independent unions
include ANA, IWW, NEA, NBPA, UE, UGSOA, and UTU. The remaining independent unions are designated by the NLRB as local independents.
TABLE
1.6-cont.
Percent of campaigns
Number Rank & Workplace External Building
of file Member I-on -1 pressure pressure for first
Unions tactics Resources Targeting committee volunteers contact Benchmarks Issues tactics tactics contract
Unions that average two or fewer 1.75 .04 .22 .22 .25 .11 .14 .14 .28 .07 .27
comprehensive organizing tactics
USWA 2.38 .03 .32 .43 .38 .16 .19 .22 .38 .08 .19
Other AFL-CIO service sector 2.33 .00 .44 .11 .11 .22 .22 .22 .22 .22 .57
unions*
PACE 2.08 .08 .61 .46 .00 .15 .08 .15 .31 .08 .15
Other AFL-CIO industrial 1.95 .05 .25 .20 .30 .10 .25 .20 .20 .00 .40
unions*
rAM 1.56 .11 .11 .22 .11 .22 .11 .00 .33 .11 .22
IBT 1.41 .04 .13 .12 .27 .05 .12 .12 .24 .06 .27
IBEW 1.33 .00 .11 .11 .33 .22 .00 .00 .11 .11 .33
lUOE 1.33 .00 .00 .11 .00 .11 .11 .11 .56 .11 .22
All unions combined 2.60 1.4 3.9 .26 .27 .19 .24 .23 .37 .17 .35
*Other AFL-CIO transportation unions incIude ATU, ILWU, MEBA, SIUNA, and TWU. Other AFL-CIO building trades unions incIude BTCT, OPCM, and PPE Other AFL-CIO service
sector unions incIude AFT, IATSE, and OPEIU. Other AFL-CIO industrial unions incIude AFGW, BBF,BCTWU, GCIU, GMMPAW, NPW, SMW, and UMW. The national independent unions
include ANA, IWW, NEA, NBPA,UE, UGSOA, and UTU. The remaining independent unions are designated by the NLRB as local independents, some of them based solely in the target company.
Changing to Organize 45
even more elections, if they used comprehensive organizing tactics more
consistently.
The second group of unions, on average, uses fewer tactics and is less likely
to combine them into a comprehensive campaign. Unions in this group
average three comprehensive tactics per campaign, and have an overall win
rate of 44 percent. Only 8 percent of campaigns run by unions in this middle
group used more than five comprehensive organizing tactics. However, the
win rate for those campaigns was 55 percent.
The third group of unions uses comprehensive campaigns even more
seldom. Unions in this group average two or fewer comprehensive organizing
tactics per campaign, and, not surprisingly, have the lowest average win rate
(38 percent) for all three groups. Half of the unions in this group, including
IBEW, IUOE, PACE, and other AFL-CIO service unions, did not conduct any
comprehensive campaigns. Again, the win rate is much higher (67 percent),
for the 3 percent of elections involving this third group in which unions used
more than five comprehensive organizing tactics.
These data highlight three important trends. First, higher win rates are
associated with campaigns that use five or more comprehensive organizing
tactics for all three groups of unions. Second, higher win rates are associated
with unions that consistently combine comprehensive organizing tactics in
their campaigns. Third, there is a real mix of industries, companies, and unit
types among the three union groups, yet comprehensive organizing tactics are
consistently effective across the different union groupings.
It is important to note that for several of the unions in our sample-most
notably CWA, HERE, and some of the building-trades unions-NLRB certi-
fication elections increasingly represent only a small portion of their recent
private sector organizing efforts. Instead, their focus has been on bargaining
to organize, voluntary recognition, and card-check neutrality. As the growing
body of case studies of non-Board campaigns have shown, the utilization of
a comprehensive union building campaign incorporating most, if not all, of
the elements of our model has been critical to the success of many of the most
significant non-Board victories (Juravich and Hilgert 1999; Waldinger and
Erickson et al. 1998; Kieffer and Ness 1999; Rechenbach and Cohen 2000).
Our organizer interviews suggest that, for these unions, NLRB campaigns are
secondary and thus tend to be more locally based and that they involve smaller
units with less strategic and less comprehensive campaigns. Thus, if we were
able to include non-NLRB campaigns in our sample, unions such as CWA,
HERE, and IBEW would likely display a higher average use of comprehensive
organizing tactics.
Table 1.6 provides more detailed data confirming that the most successful
unions are those that consistently combine comprehensive organizing tactics.
The unions in the first group average at least 30 percent for all the tactics in
46 Kate Bronfenbrenner and Robert Hickey
the model and range as high as 41 percent (benchmarks), 42 percent (build-
ing for the first contract), 46 percent (workplace pressure tactics), and, most
notably, 71 percent (targeting). The high targeting percentage for this group
is particularly revealing, because it suggests that these are the unions that are
most committed to a strategic organizing plan (organizing within their
primary jurisdiction) and fully ~owledgeable about their individual,
company's ownership structure, operations, finances, and vulnerabilities. At
the same time, these data also reveal that, with the exception of targeting, even
the most successful unions are using these tactics in fewer than half of their
campaigns. Not only could an increase in frequency (and quality) of the use
of all these tactics further increase win rates for these unions, but it also might
facilitate getting more campaigns off the ground and winning them in larger
uni ts.
The results for the second group are much more uneven, ranging from 17
percent for external pressure tactics, and 18 percent for resources, to 44
percent for workplace pressure tactics and targeting. Overall, this group aver-
aged lower than 30 percent for most of the tactics in the model. It is particu-
larly striking that this second group rates low on resources (17 percent),
one-on-one contact (23 percent), representative committee (27 percent), and
benchmarks and assessments (27 percent), since these are fundamental ele-
ments of a comprehensive campaign. If unions do not devote adequate or
appropriate resources, fail to build rank-and-file leadership among the
workers they are trying to organize, and fail to reach the majority of the
members through person-to-person contact in the workplace and the com-
munity, their campaigns may never get off the ground far enough to correctly
identify issues, build for the first contract, or effectively mobilize workers for
internal or external pressure tactics. And, if they do not use benchmarks and
assessments, they have no way of evaluating the effectiveness of their strategy,
or when and whether to move on to the next phase of the campaign. The find-
ings suggest that while these unions have been taking new initiatives and
organizing more aggressively than in the past, they continue to use tactics in
isolation, without the interconnected, multifaceted union-building strategy
required in the current organizing environment.
The third and largest group of unions average lower than 15 percent for
half the tactics in the model (resources, one-on-one contact, benchmarks,
issues, and external pressure tactics) and lower than 27 percent for all the
remaining tactics. This suggests that nearly half of the unions involved in
NLRB certification elections run campaigns not unlike campaigns in the late
1980s when we first started tracking the nature and success of union organ-
izingefforts (Bronfenbrenner 1993, 1997). The findings are less surprising
given that, on average, unions in this third group had adequate and
appropriate resources in only 4 percent of their campaigns. Without such
Changing to Organize 47
resources, it is difficult to pull together many of the other elements of the
model.
For each individual tactic, these trends are consistent across the three
groups, providing insight into the nature of current organizing efforts. For
example, the frequency of targeting and external pressure tactics varies widely
among the three groups, while the use of member volunteers shows much less
variation. This suggests that while more sophisticated tactics, such as target-
ing and external pressure tactics, have yet to be embraced by many unions,
even the least successful are comfortable with more traditional tactics, such as
having members assist with organizing campaigns. Yet, even the most suc-
cessful unions still do not make consistent use of such key tactics as adequate
and appropriate resources, active representative committees, person-to-
person contact, benchmarks and assessments, member volunteers, and inter-
nal and external pressure tactics.
RESULTS: REGRESSION ANALYSIS
19
.d
:h
In addition to examining the impact of comprehensive organizing tactics on
NLRB certification election outcome through descriptive statistics, we used
binary logistic regression analysis to control for the influence of election envi-
ronment, company characteristics, bargaining unit demographics, and
employer tactics.19 Two models were used to estimate the predicted impact of
comprehensive organizing tactics on the odds of the union winning the elec-
tion. Model A includes each of the ten tactics that constitute a comprehensive
union building strategy. Model B combines the individual tactics into a com-
prehensive union tactic scale variable, adding one unit for each individual
comprehensive tactic used.2O
As shown in table 1.7, while all ten of the comprehensive organizing tactics
variables included in model A are associated with higher win rates, these pos-
itive effects were not statistically significant for the majority of the individual
comprehensive tactic variables when controlling for election background, bar-
gaining unit demographics, company characteristics, and employer opposi-
tion. The only exceptions were adequate and appropriate resources,
rank-and-file committee, and benchmarks and assessments; these did have a
statistically significant positive impact on the odds of the union winning 'the
election, increasing the odds of an election win by 119 percent for resources,
89 percent for rank-and-file committee, and 162 percent for benchmarks and
assessments.
The findings confirm that these three variables are fundamental elements
of a comprehensive campaign, building blocks that enhance the union's ability
to engage in any of the other tactics included in the model. Without adequate
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48 Kate Bronfenbrenner and Robert Hickey
and sufficient resources, unions will be unable to staff and finance the labor-
intensive, grassroots tactics that a comprehensive union building campaign
requires. Similarly, a representative and active committee is necessary to
develop rank-and-file leadership, build the union inside the workplace, and
make connections between the workers and the community outside the work-
place. Benchmarks and assessments are essential to evaluate when and
whether to use each of the other tactics and when and whether to move on
to the next phase of the campaign.
While these findings suggest that three comprehensive organizing tactics
had an independent positive effect on election outcome, as we will see in the
discussion of the findings from model B, their individual effect was not as
great as the aggregate effect of using a combination of the comprehensive
organizing tactics in the model. 21 Together, the descriptive and regression find-
ings indicate that while resources, committees, and benchmarks and assess-
ments are fundamental elements of a comprehensive campaign, they are not
sufficient, in that they are most effective in combination with other compre-
hensive organizing tactics.22 .
In accordance with our first hypothesis, the findings in table 1.7 confirm
that most of the comprehensive organizing tactics that make up our model
do not have a statistically significant effect when used in isolation of the other
tactics. However, as shown in table 1.8, when these individual tactics are com-
bined into a single variable, adding one unit for each additional tactic used,
they have a strong positive impact on election outcome, statistically signifi-
cant at .001 or better. After controlling for election environment and employer
opposition, each additional comprehensive union tactic used by the union
increases the odds of a union win by 34 percent. Thus, the unions in our
sample who used at least six comprehensive organizing tactics increased their
odds of winning the election by 204 percent (6 times 34 percent). The same
logic demonstrates that unions averaging four or more tactics increased their
odds of winning the election by at least 136 percent, while those averaging
three tactics increased their odds by 102 percent, and those averaging two or
fewer tactics increased their odds no more than 68 percent.
The findings from the election environment variables are also consistent
with our hypotheses. In both models, manufacturing sector, subsidiary, and
employer behavior had a strong, statistically significant negative impact on
election outcome. The results for both model A and model B suggest that for
each additional anti-union tactic used by the employer the odds of winning
the election decline by 13 percent when we control for the influence of elec-
tion environment and union tactic variables.23 This finding confirms that
employer behavior can have a devastating impact on union success. These
results also confirm that the manufacturing sector is a particularly challeng-
ing environment, decreasing the odds of a union win by 52 percent in model
TABLE 1.7
The impact of comprehensive organizing tactics on election outcome: Model A-Individual union tactic variables
Model A
Percent Unstandardized
Mean or umon logistic Estimated Odds
Predicted proportion W1l1 regression standardized Standard ratio Predicted impact on
Independent variable sIgn of sample rate coefficient (P) coefficient error exp(~) odds of union win
Election background control variables
Number of eligible voters None 192.15 .000 .000 .000 1.001
Manufacturing sector .32 .29 -.732** -.343 .296 .481 -52% if unit is
in manufacturing
sector
Subsidiary of larger parent company .84 .41 -.648** -.240 .327 .523 -48% if company
is a subsidiary
Ownership change +.18 .55 .720** .281 .308 2.054 +105% if ownership
change before election
Good to excellent financial condition +.65 .43 .367 .176 .253 1.443
Board determined unit .08 .33 -.747 -.203 .463 .474
Other organized units +.15 .65 .580* .209 .350 1.785
Professional, technical, or white-collar unit .14 .48 -.458 -.172 .346 .632
60 percent or more women +.43 .59 .534* .264 .279 1.706
60 percent or more workers of color +.32 .55 .443 .207 .286 1.558
Number of employer tactics used 7.21 -.134*** -.559 .032 .874 -13% for each
additional tactic used
p. ~ ~ g- ~S' ~0!j g
~a;< rD r-+ ,aq '"1 ::s p.. r-+ g~. ~. ~ ~. ~ g ~ .~ £t 9 ~ ~ s('!)oc:np..<;~""
I r-+ I I ('1) C/') ('1)
()
C/') :3 ~~' p-.o::s "'<
TABLE
1.7-cont.
Model A
Percent Unstandardized
Mean or union logistic Estimated Odds
Predicted proportion win regression standardized Standard ratio Predicted impact on
Independent variable sign of sample rate coefficient (~) coefficient error exp(~) odds of union win
Comprehensive organizing tactics +119% if adequate
Adequate and appropriate resources +.14 .64 .799** .277 .391 2.198 and appropriate
Strategic targeting +.39 .51 .011 .005 .262 1.011 resources
Active representative committee +.26 .56 .638** .282 .279 1.893 +89% if active
representative
committee
Effectively utilized member volunteer +.27 .52 .345 .155 .269 1.412
organizers
Person-to-person contact inside and +.19 .53 -.033 -.012 .334 .967
outside the workplace
Benchmarks and assessments +.24 .66 .963*** .412 .287 2.621 +162% if used
benchmarks and
assessments
Issues which resonate in the workplace +.23 .49 .028 .013 .284 1.028
and community
Escalating pressure tactics in the workplace +.37 .50 .407 .198 .264 1.502
Escalating pressure tactics outside the +.17 .48 -.179 .140 .346 .836
workplace
Building for the first contract before the +.35 .50 .229 .109 .260 1.257
election
Total number of observations 412
Nagelkerke R square .312
-2 (log-likelihood) 457.038
Significance Levels: *=.10 ** =.05 *** =.01 (one-tailed tests)
''-"~"~'-"-"" ~"'''''-=-''''''-'-'''>'~---'"---''~--
.,
~~"""""'''''~''.'''''';''-''"''';''.." .-
TABLE 1.8
The impact of comprehensive organizing tactics on election outcome: Model B-Individual union tactic variables
Model B
Percent Unstandardized
Mean or umon logistic Estimated Odds
Predicted proportion win regression standardized Standard ratio Predicted impact on
Independent variable sIgn of sample rate coefficient (13) coefficient error exp(P) odds of union win
Election background control variables
Number of eligible voters None 192.15 .000 .000 .000 1.000
Manufacturing sector .32 .29 -.649** -.304 .287 .523 -48% if unit in
manufacturing sector
Subsidiary of larger parent company -.84 Al -.633** -.233 .320 .531 -47% if company is a
subsidiary
Ownership change +.18 .55 .669** .261 .296 1.952 +95% if ownership change
before election
Good to excellent financial condition +.65 043 .317 .148 .246 1.3 73
Board determined unit .08 .33 -.691 -.188 0448 .501
Other organized units +.15 .65 .587* .212 .337 1.799
Professional, technical or white .14 048 -.575* -.218 .331 .563
collar unit
60 percent or more women +043 .59 .535** .267 .273 1.708 +70% if at least 60% women
in the unit
60 percent or more workers of color +.32 .55 .553** .257 .258 1.739 +73% if at least 60% women
in the unit
Number of employer tactics used 7.21 -.137*** -.584 .031 .872 -13% for each additional
tactic used
Comprehensive organizing tactics
Number of comprehensive +2.60 .290*** .555 .070 1.337 +34% for each additional
organizing tactics tactic used
412
.277
470.723
H-o'''''JJ-l.-UfLl-t:: L-t"Vt;t,;,.- =.1V -.V..J -.V.L \V'~L--,""""""L-""" P""~"~J
Total number of observations
Nagelkerke R square
-2 (log-likelihood)
Significance Levels: *=.10 ** =.05 *** =.01 (one-tailed tests)
52 Kate Bronfenbrenner and Robert Hickey
A and 48 percent in model B. Similar negative effects shown for subsidiaries
of larger parent companies, where the odds of winning the election decreases
by 48 percent in model A and 47 percent in model B.
Ownership change in the two years before the election, as predicted, has a
strong statistically significant positive impact on election outcome, increasing
the odds of winning the election by 105 percent in model A and 95 percent
in model B. Also as predicted, the number of eligible voters has no discern-
able (or statistically significant) impact on election outcome.
Good to excellent financial condition (positive), board determined unit
(negative), other organized units (positive), and professional/technical or
white collar unit (negative), all have their predicted sign, though with weak
or statistically insignificant effects when we control for other variables, includ-
ing the union campaign.
In model B both of the demographic variables (60 percent or more women
and 60 percent or more workers of color) exhibit strong, statistically signifi-
cant, positive effects. Sixty percent or more women in the unit increases the
odds of a union win by 70 percent, while having 60 percent or more workers
of color increases the odds by 73 percent.24
In addition to assessing the probable impact of the number of compre-
hensive organizing tactics on the odds of a union win, we also sought to
examine the relative effects of the number of union tactics compared to the
election environment and employer opposition variables in our model. 25 In
model A the employer campaign variable, with a standardized ranking of -
.559, appears to have a much greater effect on election outcome than any indi-
vidual union tactic or environmental factor. The three comprehensive
organizing tactics that were statistically significant in model A-benchmarks
and assessments, active representative committee, and adequate and appro-
priate resources-also have a greater relative effect on election outcome than
all of the environmental factors except manufacturing sector, which ranked
third after benchmarks and employer tactics. The relative importance of
manufacturing in model A suggests that union tactics used in isolation
will not overcome the difficult challenges unions face in organizing in
manufacturing.
However, in model B, where we substituted the number of comprehensive
tactics for the ten individual comprehensive tactics, the number of employer
tactics and the number of union tactics have a relatively equal rank (.555 for
union tactics and .584 for employer tactics) followed by manufacturing (.303),
at least 60 percent women (.267), ownership change (.261), at least 60 percent
workers of color (.261), and subsidiary of a larger parent company.
Our results confirm the widespread view that manufacturing industries
and subsidiaries of large parent companies are much more difficult to organ-
ize and that employer opposition continues to have a devastating effect
on
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on
Changing to Organize 53
union orgamzmg success in NLRB campaigns. The regression findings
provide some new insights as well, suggesting that unions are much more
likely to win in companies which have had a recent ownership change,
despite all the negative changes in wages and working conditions that often
accompany such changes. The findings also suggest that union success
continues to be greatest in units with a significant majority of women or
workers of color.
In brief, we found that the use of multifaceted, comprehensive union cam-
paigns plays a much greater role in determining election outcome than indi-
vidual union tactics. Our analysis also confirms that the more comprehensive
organizing tactics used during the campaign, the greater the odds that the
union will win the election, even when we control for industry, corporate
structure, bargaining unit demographics, and employer opposition. Lastly,
we found that although employer opposition and election environment
all have a significant impact on election outcome, the number of compre-
hensive organizing tactics has as much impact as employer opposition
and more impact than election environment. Given the consistency and
strength of employer campaigns and the great potential for improvement
in the quality and intensity of union campaigns, these results support
our hypothesis that it is the nature and intensity of union campaigns, rather
than the specific industry, company, and unit type in which they operate that
plays the most critical role in determining differences in win rates among
umons.
CONCLUSION
The coming years will be a period of enormous risks and challenges for the
American labor movement. Almost all unions, locally and nationally, under-
stand that both their political power and their bargaining power will be
severely undermined unless they organize on a massive scale across every
sector of the economy. Yet, as we have shown, this is also a time of great pos-
sibility for American unions. While unions face enormous difficulties in terms
of changing themselves within the political, legal, and economic environments
of organizing, their own organizing strategy is the one area they do control
and has great potential for helping unions recapture power and leverage at
both the bargaining table and the political arena.
Realizing this potential, however, will not be easy. Even as labor has strug-
gled to regroup, the economic, political, and legal climate has only grown
more hostile. Unions today are also much more likely to face a subsidiary of
a large multinational parent company with the resources and structure to
aggressively resist unionization. This is particularly true in manufacturing,
54 Kate Bronfenbrenner and Robert Hickey
where almost every union campaign must operate under the shadow of
globalization and the attendant fear of plant closings, outsourcing, or major
downsizing.
But it is too easy to simply blame employer opposition and the organizing
environment. American unions themselves must shoulder a good portion
of the responsibility for their organizing failures. Although our results
demonstrate that even in the most difficult contexts, unions can dramatically
increase their organizing success when they run more multifaceted
strategic campaigns, the majority of unions organizing today still run weak,
ineffectual campaigns that fail to build their strength for the long haul. They
simply are not doing what is necessary to succeed in the current climate of
mobile capital, aggressive employer opposition, and weak and poorly enforced
labor laws. The most pressing question, therefore, is why the majority of
unions, despite low win rates, are not choosing to run more comprehensive
campaigns?
Part of the answer is rooted in the differences in history, culture, organi-
zational structure, and leadership that influence whether, when, and how each
union builds capacity for organizing and moves toward a comprehensive
organizing strategy. For example, some of the most successful unions organ-
izing today began building organizing capacity in the 1970's and 1980's start-
ing with the recruitment of a new generation of talented young organizers
who had come of age during the civil rights, anti-war, and women's move-
ments. Many of the new recruits received their training as community organ-
izers, welfare rights organizers, or working on the United Farm Workers'
boycott, under an organizing model not unlike the comprehensive organizing
model presented in this chapter.26
This contrasts sharply with more established industrial unions and build-
ing trades unions, who felt no pressure to organize until they faced massive
membership losses in the 1980s, and, by that time, felt unable or unwilling to
invest in the staff and member recruitment and training to organize on any
scale. Several unions did not even have an organizing department or an
organizing director until the 1990s. Only in the last few years have many of
these unions recognized the critical importance of organizing and started the
difficult process of shifting more resources into organizing, recruiting, and
training more organizers.
This model of organizing is also extremely staff and resource intensive.
Unions in the United States suffer from a critical shortage of trained and expe-
rienced organizers, as well as union and university labor educators with the
knowledge and experience to train organizers in the comprehensive organiz-
ing model. But lack of resources cannot explain the failure of the majority of
unions to organize more aggressively and effectively. For the costs of not
ey Changing to Organize 55
nIz-
yof
not
organizing, to their current membership and to the survival of their union,
are far greater than the resources and effort involved in utilizing a compre-
hensive organizing strategy.
Even the country's most successful unions cannot rest on their laurels.
Despite notable victories, they too have yet to organize on the scale necessary
for labor's revival and to fully utilize the comprehensive strategies that
will allow them to expand their gains. At a time when unions need to be
organizing hundreds of thousands of workers in order to simply maintain
union density at current levels, they will, in addition, need to organize mil-
lions across every industry if they are going to make any significant gains in
union density.
Nor can unions write off industries and bargaining units where employer
opposition is more intense or workers are more hesitant to undertake the risks
and challenges that organizing entails. For if unions fail to commit to the
strategies necessary to win in manufacturing or other mobile sectors of our
economy, they will lose their single most important hedge against the most
negative effects of globalization that are fueling the race to the bottom in
wages, benefits, and workplace rights and conditions for workers in every
other industry. Similarly, if unions fail to more effectively meet the challenge
of organizing among higher paid, production workers and professional and
technical employees, they will find themselves isolated from a significant
portion of the American workforce.
Even among those workers with the greatest propensity to organize-
women and workers of color-higher win rates depend on the use of more
comprehensive union campaigns, in particular, campaigns that include staff
and rank-and-file leadership reflective of the unit being organized. Although
women of color and immigrant workers are ready and willing to do what it
takes to organize a union in their workplace, they will not endure the stresses
and risks of an organizing campaign only to discover that they, and others like
them, do not have a seat at the table, or a voice in the union, when the cam-
paIgn ISwon.
Unions cannot wait-for labor law reform, for a more favorable economic
climate, or more favorable political environment-before they begin to utilize
this more comprehensive, multifaceted, and intensive strategy in all their
organizing efforts, inside and outside the NLRB process. Regardless of sector
or industry, the challenge facing unions today is to move beyond a simple tac-
tical effort to increase numbers and to engage in the self-reflection and orga-
nizational change necessary to reverse the larger pattern of decline. Only then
will "changing to organize" really bear fruit, and only then will American
unions be able regain their power at the bargaining table, in the voting booth,
and in the larger community.
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APPENDIX
1.1
VARIABLE DEFINITION FOR COMPREHENSIVE
ORGANIZING TACTICS
Comprehensive Union-
Building Tactics Variable Definition
1. Adequate and appropriate
staff and financial resources
2. Strategic targeting
3. Active and representative
rank-and file organizing-
committee
4. Active participation of
member volunteer organizers
5. Person-to-person contact
inside and outside the
workplace
Equals 1 if there is at least one organizer for every 100 eligible
voters in the unit; one woman organizer for units with 25
percent or more women; and one organizer of color for units
with 25 percent or more workers of color.
Equals 1 if the union researched the company before the start
of the campaign or the company was part of a union
targeting plan and the union represented other workers at the
same employer or in the same industry.
Equals 1 if at least 10 percent of the unit is represented on
the committee; there is at least one woman on the committee
if the unit is 10 percent or more women; at least one person
of color on the committee if the unit is 10 percent or more
workers of color; and committee members met with workers
one-an-one in the workplace and engaged in two or more of
the following actions during the campaign: spoke at house
meetings, spoke out at captive audience meetings, spoke at
community forums, conducted assessments, assisted with
preparing board charges, or helped organize job actions.
Equals 1 if the union used at least five member volunteers
from other organized units and they engaged in one or more
of the following: meetings outside the workplace, one-an-one
in the workplace, leafleting outside the workplace, speaking at
community forums, or assessments.
Equals 1 if the union house-called the majority of the unit or
surveyed workers one-an-one about what they wanted in the
contract and conducted at least ten small group meetings or
house meetings.
1
i
Comprehensive Union-
Building Tactics Variable Definition
6. Benchmarks and assessments
to monitor union support
and set thresholds for moving
ahead with the campaign.
7. Issues which resonate in the
workplace and community
8. Creative, escalating internal
pressure tactics involving
members in the workplace
9. Creative, escalating external
pressure tactics involving
members outside the
workplace, locally, ationally,
nand/or internationally
10. Building for the first contract
before the election
Equals 1 if the union used written assessments to evaluate
membership support for the union and waited to file the
petition until at least 60 percent of the unit signed cards or
petitions.
Equals 1 if the union focused on two or more of the
following issues during the campaign: dignity, fairness,
quality of service, power, voice, or collective representation.
Equals 1 if the union used two or more of the following
workplace tactics: five or more solidarity days, job actions,
rallies, march on the boss for recognition, petitions rather
than cards, and union supporters joined empioyee
involvement committees.
Equals 1 if the union involved one or more community
groups during the campaign and also did at least one more of
the following: corporate campaign, cross-border solidarity,
involving other unions, using either paid or free media.
Equals 1 if the union did one or more of the following before
the election: chose the bargaining committee, involved
workers in developing bargaining proposals, or surveyed at
least 70 percent of the unit one-on-one about what they
wanted in the contract.
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APPENDIX
1.2
DEFINITION AND PREDICTED IMPACT OF CONTROL
VARIABLES
Control Variables Variable DefinitionPredicted Impact
Number of eligible voters
Manufacturing sector
Subsidiary of larger
parent company
Ownership change
Good to excellent
financial condition
Board-determined unit
Other organized units
Professional, technical
or white collar unit
Unit at least 60 percent
women
Unit at least 60 percent
workers of color
Number of employer
tactics used27
No significant
impact Continuous variable measuring the number
of eligible voters in the unit when the
petition was filed
Equals 1 if the unit is in the manufacturing
sector.
Equals 1 if the unit is a subsidiary.
Negative
Negative
Positive Equals 1 if there was a change in ownership
in the two years before the election.
Equals 1 if the company was in good to
excellent financial condition at the time of
the election.
Equals 1 if the NLRB determined a different
unit than the one the union petitioned for.
Equals 1 if there were other organized units
at the same location as the unit being
organized.
Equals 1 if the election was in a professional,
technical, or white-collar unit.
Equals 1 if there were 60 percent or more
women in the unit.
Equals 1 if there were 60 percent or more
workers of color in the unit.
Additive variable adding 1 unit for each
additional employer tactic used.
Positive
Negative
Positive
Negative
Positive
Positive
Negative
I
I
I
Percent win rate
Combinations of comprehensive Number of tactics used from each combination
rorganizing tactics None One Two Three Four Five Six
Resources + targeting + committee
+ volunteers + lonI + benchmarks .33 .35 .48 .62 .80 .75 1.00
Resources + targeting + committee
+ volunteers + lonI + issues .36 .35 .50 .59 .61 .80 1.00
Resources + targeting + committee
p+ volunteers + lonI + internal .35 .35 .49 .54 .65 .70 1.00
Resources + targeting + committee
+ volunteers + lonI + external .37 .36 .49 .61 .57 .83 1.00
Resources + targeting + committee
+ volunteers + IonI + contract .32 .40 .47 .54 .64 .79
nt Resources+ committee + IonI +
for. issues + external + targeting .38 .36 .53 .53 .65 .60 1.00
Targeting + committee +
ts volunteers + Ionl + benchmarks + .36 .33 .48 .60 .63 .86 1.00
Issues
Targeting + committee +
lal, volunteers + IonI + benchmarks + .35 .32 .49 .53 .67 .80 .80
internal
Targeting + committee +
volunteers + IonI + benchmarks +
external .35 .37 .45 .63 .62 .80 1.00
Targeting + committee +
volunteers + IonI + benchmarks +
contract .30 .40 Al .56 .71 .82 .67
Targeting + volunteers +
benchmarks + internal + contract
+ committee .34 .30 .46 .54 .64 .82 .67
Committee + volunteers + IonI +
benchmarks + issues + internal .34 .34 .56 .47 .68 .86 1.00
APPENDIX
1.3
PERCENT WIN RATES ACROSS COMBINATIONS OF SIX
COMPREHENSIVE ORGANIZING TACTICS
APPENDIX l.3-cont.
Percent win rate
Combinations of comprehensive Number of tactics used from each combination
organizing tactics None One Two Three Four Five Six
Committee + volunteers + lonl +
benchmarks + issues + external .35 .38 .49 .61 .65 1.00
Committee + volunteers + lonl +
benchmarks + issues + contract .32 .40 .46 .53 .73 .86
Committee + volunteers + Ion 1 +
benchmarks + issues + resources .33 .38 .52 .60 .77 1.00 1.00
Committee + lonl + issues +
external + resources + volunteers .37 .38 .50 .64 .53 1.00 1.00
Volunteers + lonl + benchmarks +
issues + internal + external .32 .42 .48 .55 .67 .60
Volunteers + lonl + benchmarks +
issues + internal + contract .29 .43 .48 .48 .76 .70
Volunteers + lon1 + benchmarks +
issues + internal + resources .31 .40 .51 .57 .65 1.00 1.00
Volunteers + lonl + benchmarks +
issues + internal + targeting .34 .35 .48 .53 .70 .69 1.00
Volunteers + benchmarks +
internal + contract + targeting +
lonl .32 .35 .47 .57 .55 .79 .67
lon1 + benchmarks + issues +
internal + external + contract .31 .46 .44 .57 .61 .71
lon1 + benchmarks + issues +
internal + external + resources .33 .43 .48 .61 .62 .86
lon1 + benchmarks + issues +
internal + external + targeting .36 .36 .50 .51 .72 .64
Ion 1 + benchmarks + issues +
internal + external + committee .34 .40 .48 .55 .66 .83
lonl + issues + external +
resources + committee + .34 .42 .46 .65 .79 .83
benchmarks
Benchmarks + issues + internal +
external + contract + resources .30 .42 .50 .51 .60 1.00 1.00
Benchmarks + issues + internal +
external + contract + targeting .33 .37 .49 .54 .50 .82 1.00
Benchmarks + issues + internal +
external + contract + committee .31 .43 .45 .52 .61 1.00
Benchmarks + issues + internal +
external + contract + volunteers .29 .44 .46 .56 .59 .75 1.00
Benchmarks + internal + contract
+ targeting + volunteers + issues .32 .36 .44 .57 .60 .70 1.00
Issues + internal + external +
contract + resources + targeting .33 .40 .50 .55 .44 .75 1.00
Issues + internal + external +
contract + resources + committee .31 .43 .50 .54 .52 1.00 1.00
Issues + internal + external +
contract + resources + volunteers .31 .44 .46 .58 .52 .75 1.00
Issues + internal + external +
contract + resources + lonl .33 AS .49 .49 .60 .63 1.00
Issues + external + resources +
committee + lonl + internal .35 Al .49 .61 .50 .80 1.00
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