Managers always use the same playbook to keep us divided. They’ll try to undermine your organizing with the same basic obstacles. Check out some of the most common below and better prepare yourself for it if they happen to you.
Divided By Fear
Management may create an atmosphere of tension to keep us divided. For instance, surveillance may increase. Outside consultants or high-level executives not usually spotted on the shop floor may suddenly appear. Managers may make threats, or even make an example of someone. If they’re smart, they recognize the risk of going too far and sparking a wave of anger. Help co-workers find the courage to overcome their fear by tapping into their righteous anger over workplace injustices. Humor can be a useful tool
Divided By Hopelessness
Management will spread the message that your organizing is a waste of time. The decision is made and you don’t have any power anyway. But the harder supervisors are working to counter your campaign the greater the evidence that you do have power. Point this out to co-workers every chance you get. Inspire hope by formulating a credible plan to win. Start with small, winnable fights to help build your co-workers’ confidence in the power of collective action.
Divided By Confusion
You’ll be amazed at the creative rumors and myths management will start circulating to get people talking about anything but your issues. In a representation drive, the standbys are “the union just wants your money”. “The union can force you to go on strike”. “The union will use your dues to support Democrats” and “the union will come between you and your supervisor.” But who knows what else they’ll dream up. You can inoculate against the likeliest talking points, but you can’t anticipate every lie. Instead, your job as an organizer is to share information and help interpret the boss’s actions. Help your co-workers find clarity. Not just about the facts, but also about why management is behaving this way.
Divided By Division
Management may try to weaken your support by buying off particular leaders. Offering a measly half solution that only helps certain people, or pitting one group against another. Promote unity by finding and emphasizing your common ground. Usually the issue you’re organizing around. Look for opportunities to build relationships between groups, perhaps in a social setting. Agree ahead of time that all groups will discuss whatever offer management comes up with – no one will make any side deals.
Now that you know what to look for don’t allow your Employer to take advantage of you. Stand together and an demand that your issues are taken seriously.