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Press Release

New report on actions to protect workers’ rights from union-busting activity


Center for Labor and a Just Economy, Governing for Impact and LaborLab propose steps that the Department of Labor and the Federal Trade Commission can take to better protect workers’ right to unionize from aggressive union-busting activity by “persuader” firms. 

CAMBRIDGE, MA – Today, Center for Labor and a Just Economy (CLJE), Governing for Impact (GFI), and LaborLab issued a report encouraging the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to strengthen protections for union organizing from employers’ use of union-avoidance consultants. 

Anti-union persuasion tactics pose a significant challenge to worker organizing. Employers often hire outside firms – or what the DOL terms “persuader” firms – to design aggressive campaigns to dissuade workers from voting in favor of a union. These firms often encourage employers to adopt highly coercive behavior. Employers spend an estimated $400 million a year on anti-union consultants. As the outcomes in the two recent UAW unionization drives in the South demonstrate, aggressive union-busting tactics can be highly effective. At their Vance, Alabama Mercedes plant, the company hired anti-union firms to coordinate one of the most “strategic and organized” anti-union campaigns witnessed in decades. By contrast, Volkswagen remained neutral during the campaign at their Chattanooga, Tennessee plant.  At Mercedes, the union lost the recent election while at Volkswagen workers became the first to unionize an auto plant in the South in nearly 80 years.

CLJE, GFI and Labor Lab’s new report, “Spotlight on Union-Busters: Recommendations to the Department of Labor and Federal Trade Commission,” outlines strategic actions the agencies can take to protect workers’ right to organize and make informed decisions about unionization, free from unduly coercive anti-union behavior.  

Sharon Block speaks with FTC Chair Lina Khan about anti-union firms and their impact.

The report proposes three changes the DOL’s Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) can make to increase transparency of companies’ use of anti-union firms in unionization drives. These recommendations include lifting the enforcement pause for anti-union consultants who fail to file complete legally required reports; requiring self-identification by employers who both receive federal grants, loans and loan guarantees and use anti-union consultants; and expanding the information reported by employers who use anti-union consultants. In addition, the organizations recommend that the FTC investigate whether persuader firms facilitate unlawful conspiracies between competing employers to hold down wages and prevent unionization. In a recent event hosted by CLJE at Harvard Law School, FTC Chair Lina Khan spoke to whether persuader firms’ anti-union activities may be construed as coordinated, anti-competitive behavior: “if you think about… the kind of hub and spoke model where you have a central entity that’s facilitating illegal behavior across some of these independent businesses, that is something that can be in the crosshairs of the antitrust laws.”

Read more from Sharon Block and Reed Shaw on Mercedes’ use of union-busters in Alabama and disclosure reform OnLabor. And, read Dave Jamieson’s coverage of the report on Huffpost.


About the Center for Labor and a Just Economy

The Center for Labor and a Just Economy is Harvard Law School’s hub of collaborative research, policy, and strategies to empower working people to build an equitable economy and democracy. Through convening stakeholders, disseminating ideas, advising policy makers, and shaping how the media understands progressive labor issues, the Center is committed to reimagining the law and developing paradigm-shifting policy.

About Governing for Impact

Governing for Impact (GFI) is a regulatory policy organization dedicated to ensuring the federal government works for working Americans, not corporate lobbyists. The policies we design and the legal insights we develop help increase opportunity for those not historically represented in regulatory policy implementation work: working people. For additional information about GFI, please visit

About LaborLab

LaborLab is a nonprofit watchdog organization protecting and promoting the right of workers to collectively bargain. Every year, our work helps ensure thousands of workers have access to a voice on the job. Many of LaborLab’s current campaigns focus on tracking, monitoring, and reporting on the union-busting industry and its compliance with the law. For additional information about LaborLab, visit

For more information, please contact Thea Burke at

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