The Teamsters Local 671, of Bloomfield, is teaming up with the Connecticut Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) to recruit individuals to infiltrate businesses with the explicit objective of unionizing the workplace.
In a June 23 email, the organizations invited their “comrades” to a virtual meeting, posing questions such as “Are you looking for a job?” and “Do you want intensive organizing training?” They then emphasized “that it is the right time” to engage in “SALTING” — the act of intentionally taking a job at a workplace with the goal of unionizing.
The meeting — called “Salting Information Session” — was held on Thursday (June 29) where organizers covered the basics of salting and union organizing; why socialists should salt; and how socialists are currently salting in Connecticut (but they did not specify where).
Salting has long been a subject of debate and controversy since it involves union members intentionally seeking employment in non-unionized workplaces to organize and recruit workers into unions. The union may even pay a person to be a salt.
Proponents say this tactic empowers workers and strengthens collective bargaining power, believing it is necessary to protect employees who may be susceptible to exploitative practices by their employers.
Critics, however, point out that salts are deceptive, purposefully misrepresenting their intentions to workers in order to manipulate the hiring process, while jeopardizing the job prospects of those honestly looking for employment. Additionally, critics raise ethical concerns because the practice undermines the principles of fair play and transparency.
With their ultimate objective to unionize the workforce of an employer, salts utilize a bevy of tactics to achieve their Machiavellian ends.
One such method is to trap employers into committing unfair labor practices. For instance, a professional salt — who is employed by a union — will tell the employer, during the application process that they are seeking employment for the purpose of organizing the company’s employees. The salt’s hope is that they are not hired because of their union affiliation.
Under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), employers are prohibited from rejecting job applicants on the basis of their union affiliation. If an applicant believes they were unfairly denied employment due to their union affiliation, they have the right to bring their case to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Should the NLRB find that the employer engaged in discrimination based on union affiliation, it has the authority to order the company to hire the individual in question. In more severe cases, the NLRB may even require the employer to provide compensation to the salt, equal to the salary they would have received if they had been hired.
Or, as is often the case, a salt will deceive employers by using fake names, social security numbers and bogus resumes.
Ultimately, salts do not operate with transparency. After being hired, they may choose to remain undercover and engage in activities intended to disrupt production, amplify disliked aspects, and demoralize fellow employees.
Unions may even recruit former disgruntled employees to linger around their former workplace or troll the employers’ social media accounts. Their purpose is to engage employees in conversations, attempting to persuade them that joining a union is necessary for protection or improving working conditions. They pressure their colleagues to unionize and then leave as soon as the union is installed.
As nefarious as this sounds, this practice is perfectly legal.
The U.S. Supreme Court in NLRB v. Town & Country Electrical (1995) determined that salts are entitled to the protections afforded by the NLRA, ruling that discrimination based on union activity is not permitted. If it is established that the company is hiring qualified candidates and the salt meets those qualifications, the company is obligated to offer them the job.
There is hope that these unscrupulous tactics will be banned. In June, Rep. Rick Allen (R-GA-12) introduced the Truth in Employment Act, which is aiming to amend the NLRA. The bill seeks to provide clarity by stating that union agents cannot file unfair labor practice charges if they are fired by the businesses they are actively targeting.
In a June 26 press release, Rep. Allen stated, “Big labor and union bosses will stop at nothing to coerce more American workers into unionization, even if it means targeting small businesses in need of new employees.” He added, “The deceptive practice called ‘salting’ is becoming more common across the country and is nothing more than a desperate attempt to strongarm non-union employers into unionizing their workforce without a vote — or forcing them to shut their doors.”
The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and awaits further action.
Prior to the potential enactment of the Truth in Employment Act, employers need to exercise caution to ensure compliance with employment laws and take preventive measures to avoid unfair labor practice charges from the NLRB. While employers are not entirely powerless against union salting, it presents challenges, and it is important to note that the law tends to favor such salting practices.
Although it may not be a commonly known term among businesses, it is important for employers to familiarize themselves with this potentially harmful tactic and to comprehend the protections available to them.