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Opinion: The Labor Movement’s New Blood

Wall Street Journal (09/12/13) Richard Berman

The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations voted Monday to include “worker centers” in its ranks. These nonunion affiliates stage strikes with few actual employees and circumvent federal laws governing unions—such as the National Labor Relations Act—according to this opinion piece. The groups behind worker centers include nonprofits, charities, educational groups, and community organizations.

Worker centers help unions gain support in sectors that have historically eschewed organized labor. At first, strikes organized by worker centers include very few employees of a company they protest—far fewer than the 30% that is mandated before a union can hold an election. Initially, the aim is to influence public opinion against a company, which then will foster dissent among a growing cohort of employees. The final goal is unionization. Major labor unions have established the most prominent worker centers, such as OUR Walmart and the Restaurant Opportunities Center.