A few of our stories and columns are now in front of the paywall. We at The Chief-Leader remain committed to independent reporting on labor and civil service. It's been our mission since 1897. You can have a hand in ensuring that our reporting remains relevant in the decades to come. Consider supporting The Chief, which you can do for as little as $3.20 a month.
A "salt" in the workplace is the salt of the earth.
Not the condiment, but the union activists. These so-called "salts" are righteous deceivers who apply for jobs, not for the purposes stated to employers, but rather to gain access to co-workers and then organize them into a collective bargaining unit.
This is a case of the end justifying the means. Sometimes a ruse is enlightenment's best escort and enabler.
The worst thing for an economically viable middle class is a salt-free workplace. A sprinkling of salt among "right to work" businesses is essential. It gives the gift of hypertension to union busters who view the earth itself as an at-will employee of the creator and their own companies as planets sub-contracted to them by divine right.
Union organizers are natural proselytizers.
The National Labor Relations Board maintains that job seekers who are sincerely interested in the employment for which they are applying are protected from the employers' wrath, but the submission of applications to "generate meritless unfair labor practice charges" is not. An example of that is showing up for an interview wearing conspicuous union insignia or otherwise advertising affiliation and volunteering pro-union sentiments, and then, after almost provoking rejection, using the denial as a basis for litigation alleging rights violations.
Justice never prevails solely by the impetus of its own virtue. Sometimes finesse and sophistication are needed to dodge the bullets of administrative codes and presumptions of law.
Suppose a salt with acting skills feigns a passion for the job, fits in and performs admirably, gets satisfactory job performance ratings and then begins her justice-ordained shenanigans of union-organizing. How can original intent be proved?
When applicants are not "genuinely interested" in getting a job, they can be fired, in effect, for getting it anyway. I call that salt-shaking. When was the magic moment of crossover from ardent hireling to agitator?
Was it time-stamped in the fantasy of the boss?
Maybe the person at first knew or cared nothing about unions, applied for a job for the usual pedestrian reasons, developed an interest in unions based on experience in the workplace or by incidental exposure at college or through other means, and then sought to share the tenets of workplace justice with colleagues over a Keurig pod.
According to Wikipedia, "salting is a labor union tactic.” I call it a ministry.
Five years ago, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals "further modified the criteria" to frustrate and stunt the growth of justice in the workplace. Labor must update its playbooks with new strategies on how to fight harder and evade the retributions of management and case law.
Salting has been part of labor's game plan since around the time of President Calvin Coolidge, who said that "the business of America is business.” His latter-day acolytes still insist that the business of labor is toil. Stretches of toil interrupted by intermittent breaks for drudgery.
Non-unionized workers are not gluttons for punishment, but they are sponges for exploitation." Let them eat cake. Sponge cake!" say the corporate royalists and their courtiers at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which calls salting a "destructive tactic" and dispenses practical advice on how bosses can practice union-aversion and avoidance under cover of law.
In recent years, salting has made major strides at companies like Starbucks and Amazon. According to attorney James Redeker, a partner in the Duane Morris LLP Firm who represents companies in labor relations matters, there are "overt" and "covert" salts. Professional organizers, he says, may "entrap" employers into committing unfair labor practices (ULPs). If the union wins, "the motive yields notoriety and validates their strength and knowledge advantage over the employer … disrupt production by leading ULP strikes, exaggerating personnel issues, creating or fabricating problems, sowing discontent, borderline insubordination and sabotage.”
There are more brands of salt in our workplaces than on our store shelves. And strategies for advancing or repelling them can be as challenging as a game of chess between grandmasters. The law plays both sides of the fence.
Many of the measures of legality are predicated on slippery definitions and factors that are subjective perceptions. In a recent article, Radeker gives a tutorial to bosses on application sleuthing for clues to detect salts. He coaches bosses: "If the applicant asks questions about unions, a non-answer should be given. Or, perhaps, this would be a time to put a rabbit or two in the hat by responding..."
He includes a passage called "Inoculating Against Salting.” There's also a flourish on mining the salt. What persons or principles are they proposing to extract?
Radeker shares his historical perspective, noting that "organizing in this era of Millennial and Gen. X employees presents a dynamic that is reminiscent of the days leading up to the birth of the Act. In fact, the commonality of the mantra "Workers' Rights” comes out of the Communist playbook of the 1920s and 1930s".
He concedes that walkouts, insubordination and some other "strategies used by Salts" can hurt employers who have relied on legal defenses that "have been found to be valid, at least for a time. That is until the Board closes loopholes.”
I can imagine their attorneys scrambling like fighter pilots to intercept flying objects that are buzzing too close to the Pentagon.
Some major law firms specialize in giving tactical support to union-allergic employers. Zimolong LLC doesn't kid around. They go for the jugular, which they seem to think is located near the big toe. "The strategy to avoid union salts is rather simple. But simplicity does not mean easy. The process requires discipline.” The Fortney Law Group states, "A union salting campaign is designed to intimidate or cripple a nonunion contractor. … A union will use every method it knows of, scrupulous or not, to achieve its goal.”
Bravo! No need to beat around the bush when you can uproot it and lay bare the hole in your argument. I'd bet Unite Here and like-minded crusaders are privy to such scheming.
The union-phobes view salting as entrapment. At least it's in a virtuous cause. The same cannot be said of Project Veritas, which uses every devious snare to incriminate and bear false witness against unions and others.
Targets for salting have become even more diversified since last year, when Jacobin referred to the "movement moment" in many sectors including "retail, logistics, gaming, news and hospitality.” Salting is now bigger than ever in the auto industry. All we really wanna do is civilize while we industrialize.
To beat them at their own game, we must first beat them at their own vocabulary.
When union promoters file a salt-related lawsuit against companies, the federal government's NLRB foots the bill for them, but the companies have to pay their own way. They'd rather be put in that position than reward their workers for their productivity in the first place, so that they could pay their own way down the supermarket aisles and to the mortgage brokers.
A recent New York tabloid opinion piece obviously regarded the renaissance of workplace salting as a Hail Mary pass that pro-labor radicals are throwing in response to the sobering fact that allegedly the national unionization rate hit a record low last year. The intoxicating feat is that more than 71 percent of Americans are convinced that unions are a good thing, according to a recent Gallup poll.
Salt "conducts nerve impulses … and maintains the proper balance of water and minerals.” Good for Morton at the table! But under the table of our workplaces, other impulses are playing out to achieve balance of a different kind.
I'll see what I can do at my local gym, building union muscle mass.
We depend on the support of readers like you to help keep our publication strong and independent. Join us.
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here