Department of Labor records show that Bed, Bath and Beyond (BBB) spent over $854,000 on anti-labor consultants to defeat a union campaign by its low-paid, largely Latino warehouse workers.
Ninety percent of the 828 workers at the Port Reading, New Jersey warehouse are Spanish-speaking, according to published accounts. The workers wanted a union. And with starting wages of $7.50 an hour, annual raises of about 17 cents an hour, and no health insurance, the workers deserved a union. But they didn't get one.
Keep reading below the orange square knot for the sordid details of how a shadowy group called Persuasive Communication raked in close to $1 million for waging a vicious anti-union campaign marked by firings and illegal interrogations of pro-unionworkers.
The union organizers were overjoyed to find solid support among the BBB workers. They'd been trying for years to unionize the countless thousands of low-wage warehouse workers in the key logistics hubs. The big BBB warehouse along the I-95 corridor would be a great start, especially after a unsettled battle against a Long Island Target store.
Unions generally don't even petition for an National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) election, unless 60-70% of the workers signed pledge cards, indicating that over 500 of the BBB workers has initially asked for union representation.
But BBB hired Persuasive Communications the very next day after the union filed its election petition. Persuasive then began waging what it termed "...a bilingual employee relations and communication program..." against the pro-union BBB workers.
According to published accounts, the anti-union campaign included captive-audience meetings two or three times a week to "slander" the union. The Persuasive Communications operatives would usually translate the anti-union diatribes into Spanish, which included assertions that the union was a bunch of liars and couldn't be trusted.
The NLRB issued unfair labor practice charges against BBB for an illegal interrogation and the phonied-up firing of Segundo Escobedo, a pro-union worker. Three other pro-union workers eventually filed court suits after being fired.
The terrorized workers ultimately voted against the union.
Persuasive Communications, based in Brownsville, Texas, makes a pretty penny from these ventures. Its CEO, Carlos Restrepo, pays himself about $300,000 a year. His reports indicate that he frequently performs bilingual union-busting.
Oddly, and illegally, Persuasive Communications did not file its own legally mandated report with the Department of Labor for its shadowy activities on BBB's behalf. I'll be writing to the Department of Labor myself to complain, tomorrow morning.
Here is a copy of BBB's report, called an LM-10 form.
Anti-labor consultants are supposed to file a corresponding form for each arrangement with a company, called an LM-20, and a year-end form, the LM-21, listing all their clients and the lucre gathered. Persuasive failed to file any LM forms at all for 2012, despite their work for BBB and for other unscrupulous employers.