The Dangers of Salting Under Trump

Johnson, Nick

Publisher:  In These Times
Date Written:  23/03/2017
Year Published:  2017  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX20513

Johnson analyzes the legal rights that a labour union 'salt' has -- or doesn't have -- in the wake of the anti-union of the U.S. government.



Salting is a union organizing tactic in which an organizer (a "salt") applies for a job at a nonunion company with the goal of organizing his or her coworkers to form a union, recently explored in detail by Erik Forman. The history of salting in the United States goes back at least to the founding of construction unions in the late 1800s, and unions have utilized the tactic in numerous industries throughout the twentieth century.

In Steve Early's 2013 book Save Our Unions: Dispatches from a Movement in Distress, one chapter tells the stories of salts involved in modern campaigns to organize hotel workers, Starbucks baristas, bicycle messengers, and others. Early concludes that the inside experience provides salts "invaluable" lessons they can put to use if they move on to other roles in the labor movement.

In addition, the insider role provides numerous benefits for the organizing campaign at hand. Rather than acting in an outside capacity, salts gain additional credibility as they earn the trust of their coworkers and can more fully understand and effectively agitate around the concerns that are unique to a particular workplace.

While providing its practitioners with lessons in how labor organizing works, salting is also an effective tool for unions. This is why historically, the tactic has often come under attack by capital and the Right -- and why it may soon come under attack in the Trump era.
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