“While organizing in the Rocky Mountains for the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union, Richard Bensinger developed a technique called “The Blitz,” a fast paced, pre- petition organizing strategy that gives the union the jump on the company. It calls for “front loading the organizing campaign by using volunteer organizers on a large scale to supplement regularly assigned staff. The “Blitz” compresses the time for home visits and committee building, so you are well on your way before the company can mount an effective opposition.”
This technique of home visits has been a long standing tradition of all labor unions. Besides the usual trying to talk to employees while entering or exiting the work place, all unions utilize the home visit as that special visit to the employees. The technique described above refers to building a volunteer organizing committee quickly and training them in order to prepare for the anti-union campaign propaganda that comes with the petition.
Home visits are done at 3 critical points of the campaign. The initial home visit as described above is done to build that volunteer organizing committee. Once the committee of leaders is built, the committee is trained in internal organizing techniques and to begin setting up the one to one meetings with their coworkers. At this point the campaign is always kept underground, referred to as the stealth campaign.
The second phase of home visits are performed WITH not only a union organizer but also with one of the workers. Most of the time, these home visits are pre planned and set up by the internal committee. Sometimes these are the home visits that can be utilized to get cards signed. Most of management thinks that the union knocks on doors and “…no one would ever let a stranger into their home.” However, because the organizer is accompanied by another worker, and usually it is pre planned, the home visit is well received.
The third round of home visits is after the petition is filed and the union gets the excelsior list. The third round again is done with employees and is done on the employees that were not touched prior to card signing (if any left) and on every employee who signed a card to solidify the vote.
There are 6 items in the agenda for all home visits that an organizer follows:
- INTRODUCTION: Communicate and LISTEN (something the union has already embarked on brainwashing employees that management never listens to them). Let employees talk and give their opinions. Employees love to talk.
- ASK QUESTIONS AND AGAIN LISTEN: Learn what are the issues at work. What are the emotional issues and “hot button” items.
- OFFER THE UNION SOLUTION: This is where the union captures the go to person illusion. As the union states so well in their own words, “the important part is to try to act like an educator, not a salesperson.”
- GATHER INFORMATION: As the employee provides information and starts viewing the union as the “vindicator,” the employee must acknowledge they are part of the solution of the problem and the “ownership” of the campaign is critical at this point. “It is this employee that has to wear the union button proudly.”
- INOCULATION: Make sure to prepare the employee for what the employer will say.
- COMMITMENT: Card signed, possibly join a committee, solidify the vote.
Again, while everyone thinks that actions on the unions part are not well planned, they are not only well planned, the actions are calculated so that there is minimal risk. Remember, unions are doing home visits prior to the petition as they are signing up possibly up to 70 percent or more of your workforce and no one is mentioning it to management. Do you think that a letter to them after a petition is filed to warn them of the home visit seems “frightening”? The only fright is that that most companies do not think it will happen to them and they pass on the opportunity to train their staff.