Unregulated Organizing: Analysis of the Worker Center Movement

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November 18, 2021

by Trey Kovacs, Senior Fellow

Institute for the American Worker


At their peak in 1954, labor organizations represented 34.8 percent of employees.[1] Now, fewer than 11 percent of employees are union members, with private sector membership at near all-time lows of 6.3 percent.[2] As the workforce grows, unions represent an ever-smaller share.

Numerous factors have contributed to this decline─ the expansion of free trade which created greater global competition for employees, increased employee turnover, overall better work conditions for non-union employees, and government regulations which establish workplace standards previously negotiated by unions.[3]

In addition, labor unions have failed to prioritize organizing workers or adapt to the changes in the workplace. This is well-illustrated in the written testimony by Roger King, senior labor and employment counsel at the HR Policy Association, before the House and Labor Committee.

King’s testimony unearths several statistics that show labor unions have lost their financial commitment to unionizing workers. For example, the “AFL-CIO’s internal budget for 2018-2019 dedicates less than one-tenth of its budget to organizing.”[4] In contrast, the largest portion of the AFL-CIO’s budget, 35 percent, is spent on political activities.[5]

Further evidence that the labor movement has scaled back organizing efforts: union petitions for election have declined by nearly 63 percent from 1997 to 2017.[6] Furthermore, there were 110.5 million potential available private-sector workers available to organize in FY 2018. However, in that same year, “the number of employees petitioned-for… according to NLRB statistics, was only 73,109. Accordingly, unions only sought to represent .066% of potential new members in this country.”[7]

The composition of the workforce has also changed dramatically over the past 70 years. There has also been a profound change in the educational attainment of American workers and the occupations they hold. Today, a much larger share of individuals has college degrees or some college attendance, fostering occupation growth in professional industries.[8]

Labor unions have failed to adapt to the changing economic, educational, and cultural conditions, which has resulted in less interest in union membership. In response to this decline, new workaround strategies and entities have emerged to strongarm employees who are resistant to labor unions.

Worker Centers Emerge

To combat the decline in union membership, organizations known as worker centers have emerged and they receive significant financial and organizational support from labor unions.[9] These entities can be characterized as hybrid organizations that combine the attributes of labor unions, community groups, and political organizations. Most worker centers are formed to harness organizing power and advocate for changes in wages and work conditions of employees. However, an underlying goal of many worker centers is to set the table for unionization or apply political pressure.

While worker centers most closely resemble labor unions in structure and purpose, they are established as 501(c)3 tax-exempt, public charities. Despite their non-profit status, however, worker centers, like labor unions, often have an active membership that engages employers or groups of employers to effectuate change in labor and employment law─ weighing in on wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment.

The similarities do not stop there. Worker centers use many union tactics, including organizing employees, picketing, protesting, and smear campaigns. However, as non-profits, worker centers are permitted to conduct secondary boycotts and protests. Labor unions, under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), are prohibited from engaging in secondary activity, which attempts to coerce one company from doing business with another employer with which the labor union has a dispute.

Predominantly, worker centers target employees, companies and industries that have historically rejected unionization or agricultural workers who are prohibited from unionizing, including growing segments of the workforce in the foodservice, warehouse, and retail sectors.

As worker centers grow and their influence and activity expand, U.S. labor law has primarily left them unregulated. Republicans and, at times, the Department of Labor (DOL) have questioned the appropriateness of the non-profit status of worker centers.[10] When examining the legal definition of a labor union, it is easy to understand why the non-profit status of worker centers has been scrutinized.

Definitions of Labor Organizations 

Worker centers share many traits of labor unions, receive union funding, and are heavily supported by them. This symbiotic relationship, in part, has been the basis for government investigations and legislative proposals to classify worker centers as labor unions. A review of regulations and restrictions on labor unions easily establishes sound reasons why worker centers strongly resist the union label.

The primary laws that define labor organizations are the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA) and the NLRA. These laws are enforced, respectively, by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). While these statutes define “labor unions” differently, in practice the definitions have a similar impact. Coverage of the LMRDA is broader than the NLRA. Labor organizations with agricultural members and employees covered by the Railway Labor Act fall under the jurisdiction of the LMRDA, but not the NLRA.

Under LMRDA Section 3(i), an entity is considered a “labor organization” if it is “engaged in an industry affecting commerce,” its employees participate in the organization, and it exists to deal with “employers concerning grievances, labor disputes, wages, rates of pay, hours, or other terms or conditions of employment.”[11] Importantly, according to the OLMS Interpretative Manual, an entity can be considered a labor organization that does not actually deal with an employer, but merely exists, at least in part, for the purpose of dealing with employers.[12]

NLRA Section 2(5) defines a labor organization as an entity that employees participate in and exists for the “purpose, in whole or in part, of dealing with employers concerning grievances, labor disputes, wages, rates of pay, hours of employment, or conditions of work.[13]

A labor union, at the core of the two definitions, is an entity with membership that exists for the purpose of dealing with employers regarding work conditions. The key to both definitions is that dealing does not need to take place. An entity merely must exist, in part, for the purpose of dealing with an employer.

To show an organization’s intent to deal with an employer, that purpose must be defined in its by-laws, mission statement, constitution, resolutions, demands made to employers or other documents. Actual dealing can also show the organization exists to deal. To constitute dealing, there must be a recurring back-and-forth between the labor organization and the employer, beyond mere “isolated instances” of dealing about a single issue.[14] Despite these requirements, under the NLRA, the term “dealing” has been defined far broader than traditional collective bargaining and includes exchanges of proposals about work conditions between management and some groups of non-unionized workers.[15]

Both the NLRA and LMRDA interpret “dealing” to hold that a collective bargaining agreement does not need to be negotiated for dealing to have occurred between an organization and employer. In addition, dealing can occur even when a labor organization seeks a change to work conditions at an employer where its members do not work. This broad definition of “dealing” has resulted in entities, not usually thought of as labor unions, to be defined as such. For example, the NLRB Division of Advice concluded that a group of unemployed workers that picketed an employer, met with them on several occasions, and persuaded the employer to pay on a union scale and hire some of the unemployed workers was a labor organization.[16]

Despite the long history of the NLRB and OLMS, these government agencies have only dealt with worker centers on a few occasions. Therefore, there is little available information on how these agencies determine the status of a worker center-type organization.

OLMS Investigation of CTUL Provides Regulatory Insight

It is important to note, worker centers are far from a monolith. They are all separate non-profits. Each organization has its own articles of incorporation, individualized mission statements, and engage in unique activity. Therefore, an analysis to determine if a worker center meets the definition of a labor union must be conducted on a case-by-case basis.

It is difficult to determine how OLMS distinguishes between worker centers and labor unions since their investigations are not publicly disclosed. However, part of an OLMS investigation into a worker center was published by the media and it provides insight into how the agency determines labor union status.

In 2019, Bloomberg published a letter from the OLMS Detroit-Milwaukee Regional Office to Centro De Trabajadores Unidos En La Lucha (CTUL), a worker center based in Minnesota that’s mission is to organize low wage workers in the Twin Cities.[17] The OLMS letter states, “[B]ased on available evidence, OLMS has reason to believe that CTUL is a labor organization pursuant to LMRDA Sections 3(i)…”[18]

The contents of the letter note that OLMS determined it is a membership organization in which employees participate. CTUL’s bylaws confirm it is a membership organization available to anyone who engages in a certain number of meetings or “actions,” such as picketing or protesting. Members of CTUL are allowed to vote on the Board of Directors and organizational decisions at biannual meetings.

CTUL’s bylaws also detail the organization’s purpose is to “organize low-wage workers from across the Twin Cities to develop leadership and educate one another to build power and lead the struggle for fair wages, better working conditions, basic respect, and a voice in our workplaces.”[19]

These provisions, as determined by the OLMS Detroit-Milwaukee office, indicate that CTUL “exists, at least in part, for the purpose of dealing with employers concerning wages, rates of pay, and other terms and conditions of employment.” Furthermore, information uncovered by OLMS suggests that CTUL may be dealing with employers to secure certain work conditions for its members.

The OLMS review of CTUL’s activity shows it engaged in a lengthy pressure campaign (also known as a corporate campaign) aimed at Target (which has its national headquarters based in Minneapolis) to adopt a “Responsible Contractor” policy that changed employees’ working conditions.  CTUL organized strikes, picketing, hand-billing, and protesting at shareholder meetings against Target, which ultimately resulted in Target adopting the responsible contractor policy.

The organizing tool is best described by Jarol Manheim, a professor at George Washington University:

A corporate campaign is an organized assault on the reputation of a company that has offended some interest group. Although corporate campaigns often involve political, economic, and legal tactics, they are centered around the media, where protagonists attempt to redefine the image–and undermine the reputation–of the target company.[20]

To date, no other information about the investigation of CTUL has been released. Furthermore, with the change in administration, it is likely that the OLMS, given the pro-union sentiment of the Biden administration, will drop the investigation, if it has not already.

Legal Advantages of Worker Center Status

Worker centers prefer non-profit status because it excludes them from adhering to a number of regulations and restrictions placed on labor unions. They operate in a legal grey area by straddling the line between a labor union and a non-profit.

In an interview, Sara Jayaraman, former Executive Director of the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC), a worker center, was asked why it is important for ROC not to be classified as a labor organization. Jayaraman responded that there are legal advantages of operating as a non-profit worker center, instead of a labor union. Specifically, she noted 501(c) 3 non-profits (a primary difference between a 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(5) is donations to 501(c)(3)s are tax deductible, whereas donations to 501(c)(5)s generally are not) do not owe a duty of fair representation to members and non-profits are not bound by NLRA restrictions on protracted recognitional picketing and secondary boycotts.[21]

Outlined below are the legal requirements and restrictions that apply to labor unions that worker centers avoid as non-profits:

  • Duty of Fair Representation: Labor unions certified as the exclusive representative are required to represent all bargaining unit members “without hostile discrimination, fairly, impartially, and in good faith.”[22] The Supreme Court imposed this safeguard on exclusive representatives since a union represents both members and non-members at an employer. Underlying the court’s concern is the recognition that the majority of the bargaining unit could advance its own interests at the expense of a minority of workers who are non-members. A potential alternative that could relieve labor unions of the duty to represent all employees is a policy known as Worker’s Choice, which gives workers freedom to represent themselves in negotiations with their employer if they choose not to be part of a union.[23]
  • Secondary Activity: Section 8(b)(4) of the NLRA prohibits labor unions from engaging in secondary activity. The provision aims is to ensure “neutral” employers are not dragged into labor disputes that disrupt the economy. While the NLRA protects the right of employees and unions to picket, such permissible activity must be confined to the primary employer with which the union has a dispute. In other words, this provision prohibits pickets or boycotts of a secondary or “neutral” employer that aims to put pressure or to coerce the primary employer in the labor dispute. On the other hand, worker centers frequently conduct secondary activity on neutral employers to force the hand of a primary employer.
  • Wildcat Strikes: When workers join a union, they forfeit their rights to bargain with their employer over pay and other workplace conditions, as ruled by a Supreme Court decision.[24] As a consequence for workers giving these rights to a union, they are prohibited, with some exceptions, from striking without union approval. A strike without union consent is called a wildcat strike. Worker centers, however, can organize wildcat strikes or employee walkouts since they are not classified as a labor union.
  • Financial Disclosure: The LMRDA requires labor organizations to file detailed annual financial disclosure documents known as Form LM-2s. Such financial disclosure allows members and the public to obtain information on how the union spends its funds, number of members, cost of union dues, assets and liabilities, and more. Labor organizations are required to file Form LM-2s to prevent abuses and corruption by union officials. Non-profits only file a Form 990, which is far less detailed than an LM-2 Form.
  • Union Democracy: Title I of the LMRDA guarantees democratic rights to union members, including, in part, the right to nominate and vote on candidates for union leadership positions, freedom of speech and assembly to criticize union officials and vote on union dues increases, sue the union, and receive a copy of the collective bargaining agreement.

The LMRDA and NLRA were enacted, in part, to guarantee minimum rights to workers who are represented by a union and ensure labor organizations are transparent and democratic organizations. Since worker centers are classified as non-profits, members of such organizations do not enjoy the protections of such laws.

Examples of Worker Centers

Worker centers vary in structure, purpose, and actions. The examples below provide a cross-section of the different kinds of worker centers and their various strategies to change the work conditions for their members.

  • Athena For All

A new worker center named “Athena For All,” formed in 2019, is a broad-based coalition comprised of other worker centers, think tanks, labor unions, and other advocacy groups. The mission of this collection of well-known Amazon critics is to take on Amazon.

For all intents and purposes, Athena exists to carry out an open-ended corporate campaign against Amazon.

The coalition uses a combination of protesting, organizing, research, PR strategies and smear tactics to apply pressure on Amazon to adopt the coalition’s desired policies ranging from labor rights, environment, and anti-trust. In addition, Athena aggressively advocates for government regulators to take action against Amazon.

Founder of Athena, Stacy Mitchell, divulges the organization’s end goal regarding Amazon in an interview with The New Republic:

She [Mitchell] thinks that, under proposed antitrust legislation, Amazon could be broken up into five or more companies. These might include a retailer, a logistics company, Amazon Web Services, an e-commerce platform for third-party merchants, a delivery service, and perhaps Amazon’s various other interests in anything from health care to video games to advertising. Once the company is divided into more manageable pieces, community organizers and unions and regulators will have a much easier time handling it.[25]

A prominent tactic used by Athena is to demand government agencies to either regulate, investigate or charge Amazon with some violation. And, as a PR savvy organization, it pushes the story out to the media. Athena has demanded the Federal Trade Commission publish a rule to prohibit Amazon from certain data collection practices,[26] urged federal and state OSHA programs to create new rules to prohibit the monitoring of employee productivity,[27] and has called on members of Congress to break up Amazon’s “monopoly.”[28]

To bring attention to its cause, Athena, along with allied organizations, has been involved in strikes and protests against Amazon. In one instance, Athena participated in a one-day walkout at a Staten Island Amazon facility to protest purported “unsafe working conditions.[29]

Another target of Athena is Amazon’s largest shareholders. In 2021, Athena organized protests at major corporate shareholders of Amazon, including Fidelity Investments and State Street Corp. The objective was to pressure these shareholders to approve numerous proposals that would add an hourly employee to Amazon’s board, anticompetitive strategy risks, and the reduction of plastic packaging, among others.[30]

In the run up to Amazon Prime Day in 2021, one of the company’s biggest sales event of the year, Athena organized the first “#AmazonHurts – Street Heat Day of Action.”[31] The campaign takes aim at Amazon’s “rate” and “time-off tasks” policies, which track employee productivity, and calls for the company to end these practices. On Prime Day, Athena stated, “people who support Amazon workers’ demands for safer workplaces will be hitting the streets to hang banners off of bridges and overpasses, posters in high traffic areas and around their communities to make sure that everyone knows that #AmazonHurts workers.”[32]

Another tactic frequently used by Athena is to circulate online petitions that demand changes to working conditions at Amazon. Athena petitions have called for Amazon to provide paid leave to employees and subcontractors,[33] end specific disciplinary policies,[34] and reinstate employees.[35]

  • Coalition for Immokalee Workers

The Coalition for Immokalee Workers (CIW) is a worker center based in Florida. It was founded in 1994 to protest the low pay of tomato pickers. Its membership primarily consists of workers employed by tomato producers.

CIW engages in various activities to pressure employers in the fast food, retail, supermarket, and other industries that purchase Florida tomatoes to enter into its Fair Food Program[36] and Fair Food Code of Conduct.[37]

Employers that join these CIW programs agree to pay extra per pound of tomatoes purchased. CIW pools these payments together and then distributes them to CIW represented workers. These payments to CIW from employers also fund the establishment of safety committees, grievance procedure for pickers, and other workplace policies. Some employers have accused CIW of using the Fair Food Program to enrich themselves.[38] Since CIW does not file detailed financial disclosure forms with the Labor Department, it is not possible to track how these funds are spent.

To pressure employers into these agreements, CIW launches corporate campaigns against employers that buy products from pickers they represent. CIW is known for picketing and holding pray-ins at individual stores,[39] boycott threats,[40] hunger strikes,[41] attending shareholder meetings and making demands,[42] and phone, email and social campaigns targeting employers.

These tactics have paid dividends. CIW has successfully agreed to terms with numerous national brands in retail, fast food, and grocery industries and growers to join the Fair Food Program and Fair Food Code of Conduct.[43]

Holdout employers that refuse to concede to CIW’s demands can expect retaliation. For example, Wendy’s fast food restaurant is currently in the CIW’s crosshairs because it refuses to join the CIW’s Fair Food Program.

Wendy’s has released public statements on why it refuses to join CIW’s Fair Food Program. Wendy’s Communications Vice President Liliana Esposito explains, “[T]he CIW requires participants to pay an additional fee directly to the tomato harvesters that work for the growers, on top of the price we already pay for the product.” Esposito went on to state that CIW has targeted Wendy’s because “we buy a lot of tomatoes for which they don’t receive any money. The Fair Food program primarily operates in Florida and Wendy’s does not currently purchase tomatoes in Florida… and that’s at the heart of these protests.[44]

Despite not purchasing tomatoes from CIW members, CIW has orchestrated a long-running smear campaign against Wendy’s to coerce them to join the Fair Food Program. As part of this campaign, CIW created a website entitled “Boycott Wendy’s” which provides resources to other organizations or individuals looking to put pressure on Wendy’s. In the resources section, the website provides templates for letters to Wendy’s management, an endorsement letter of CIW’s Wendy’s boycott, and a list of creative actions that can be taken.

Recent activity in CIW’s campaign against Wendy’s includes the “Demanding Dignity for Farmworkers” Week of Action.[45] Such action involved protesting at individual Wendy’s locations around the country and its headquarters. In total, CIW planned about 30 direct actions during the week.

To further apply pressure on Wendy’s, CIW targets its largest institutional shareholders and companies with which it does business. CIW has organized a march on some of Wendy’s largest institutional shareholders with aim to coerce them to use their influence to have Wendy’s agree to the Fair Foods Program.[46] Similarly, CIW has called for the largest food delivery services to boycott Wendy’s until it concedes to its demands.[47]

  • OUR Walmart

Another worker center is the Organization United for Respect at Walmart (“OUR Walmart”), which was originally formed as a subsidiary of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union to help unionize Wal-Mart employees.[48]

OUR Walmart first rose to prominence with Black Friday walk-outs and strikes dating back to 2012[49] and 2013.[50] The stated objective of these sporadic strikes and demonstrations was to force Wal-Mart to commit to a $15 per hour base pay for associates. However, the protests were a thinly veiled attempt to spur momentum for UFCW’s efforts to organize Wal-Mart. OUR Walmart spearheaded the activity rather than the UFCW because, as a union, they are prohibited from picketing a company in an attempt to force an employer to recognize the union.[51]

Despite exploiting a loophole in labor law, which allows worker centers to conduct pickets that are prohibited by labor unions, the Black Friday strikes ultimately ran into legal problems. In July 2019, the NLRB held that the 2013 OUR Walmart-organized Black Friday protest was an illegal intermittent strike, a strike where employees repeatedly go on strike for short periods of time.[52] Several courts have also taken action against OUR Walmart’s aggressive protest and picketing activity. Injunctions have been handed down in several states that prohibit OUR Walmart agents from entering any Walmart property, except to shop, in Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Maryland, Ohio, and Texas.[53]

OUR Walmart failed to help organize Walmart employees and split from UFCW in 2015. The campaign is now housed under the umbrella organization, United for Respect. [54] United for Respect is currently conducting four campaigns: (1) Walmart, (2) Amazon, (3) Wall Street Accountability, and (4) Fair Workweek Initiative.[55]

In these campaigns, United for Respect seeks the following demands:[56]

  • “Pay associates a base wage $15 an hour with similar raises for long-term associates.”
  • “Provide consistent schedules and full-time hours for those who want to work more hours.”
  • “Establish and follow a healthy sick time policy that allows us to take time off to care for our families, because no one should be afraid to lose their job.”
  • “Respect all associates by putting an end to discrimination, favoritism, and unjust and unlawful terminations.”
  • “Worker representation on the board of directors to ensure we have a say in decisions that impact our work and our lives.”

OUR Walmart previously used more drastic strategies like utilizing strikes and protests before legal setbacks at the NLRB and courts. Now, the worker center has been reliant on lobbing public attacks at Walmart.

Currently, the OUR Walmart campaign primarily publishes press releases and occasionally holds publicity stunts. Their press releases have consisted of criticizing a Walmart memo regarding COVID protocols,[57] attempting to launch an employee COVID tracker,[58] writing NYT op-eds about Walmart’s failed COVID response,[59] and announcing a Bernie Sanders sponsored petition to raise money and “to stand with Walmart associates,” in addition to asking for protective gear, PTO, and hazard pay.[60]

United for Respect also hosted the “first-ever alternative shareholder meeting calling on corporation to give employees a real voice in COVID-19 response.”[61] This event was joined by Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Rep. Chuy Garcia, and former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich.[62] They wanted to air their grievances, demand 1.5x hazard pay, and give employees a real voice.[63] Upon further investigation, OUR Walmart’s idea of “a real voice” would be to give employees a board seat, which four candidates “have introduced themselves to Walmart investors not just as associates but as potential members of the company’s board of directors.”[64] Interestingly, all four aspiring board members─ Cyndi Murray,[65] Melissa Love,[66] Carolyn ‘Cat’ Davis,[67] and Mary Pat Tifft[68]─ have been described as United for Respect leaders.

  • Workers Defense Project

The Workers Defense Project (WDP), founded in 2002, is a membership-based organization located in Texas which claims to empower “low-income workers to achieve fair employment through education, direct services, organizing and strategic partnerships.”[69] In 2014, it started a lobbying arm, the Workers Defense Action Fund, which endorses candidates and advocates for progressive economic policies that are favorable to labor unions and open immigration.

The WDP is active in most major Texas cities, including Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. Its primary focus is organizing and improving the working conditions of construction workers in the state. As stated on its website, WDP seeks to “develop protective legislation, directly address serious workplace problems through direct action and legal tactics, and generally improve working conditions.”[70]

One noteworthy initiative of WDP is its “Better Builder” program. Under this program, WDP works with municipalities to impose their Better Builder standards on developers. The standards set by the Better Builder program share similarities with conditions in collective bargaining agreements. For example, the city of Austin implemented the Better Builder program as part of its “Expedited Building Plan Review.” On its face, the program appears to be a scheme where a developer can pay a fee to speed up the permitting process if they agree to the Better Builder program conditions, including “paying employees a ‘living wage’ designated at $13.50 per hour; completion of Occupation Safety and Health Administration training, 10 hours for workers and 30 hours for supervisors; providing workers compensation insurance, health insurance, and paid time off.[71] WDP is also paid $20,000 per year by Travis County, which includes the City of Austin, for monitoring construction projects under the Better Builder program.[72]

In addition to its Better Builder Program, WDP engages in grassroot mobilization of workers. It offers leadership courses to construction workers so they can better advocate for workplace changes.[73] Another strategy used by WDP is to organize protests over a variety of issues. Protests backed by the WDP have sought for a worker to be reinstated,[74] demanding the payment of prevailing wages,[75]  and mandatory breaks.[76]

The WDP also has close ties to labor unions as revealed by funding it has received from these organizations. From 2013-2018, the WDP received nearly $200,000 in total from the Service Employee International Union, AFL-CIO, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Laborers International Union of North America, International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers , and Ironworkers union. The unions disclosed that these funds to WDP were for “union administration,” “contributions, gifts, and grants,” and “representational activities.” In addition, the WDP’s Workers Defense Action Fund collected $266,250 from labor unions, including the American Federation of Teachers, AFSCME, Laborers union, Painters union, and Communication Workers of America. These funds were primarily granted for political activity.


Worker centers, like labor unions, have members and exist to affect working conditions through direct workplace action and political pressure. Despite occupying the traditional space of labor organizations, worker centers avoid legal requirements placed on labor unions intended to hold them accountable to their members. The NLRA and LMRDA established crucial protections for union members. These laws require labor unions and their officials to treat all members fairly, disclose financial records, operate as democratic institutions, and more.  If worker centers are to represent employees in their dealing with employers, their members need to enjoy the same legal protections as union members.

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End Notes:

[1] Desilver, Drew, “American unions membership declines as public support fluctuates,” Pew Research Center, February 20, 2014,


[3] Richard Epstein, “The Case against the Employee Free Choice Act,” University of Chicago Law School, January 2009,

[4] Statement by G. Roger King, Senior Labor and Employment Counsel, HR Policy Association, United States

House of Representatives, Committee on Education and Labor, Hearing on Protecting the Right to Organize

Act: Modernizing America’s Labor Laws, July 25, 2019, 116th Congress.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Alexander Monge-Naranjo , Juan I. Vizcaino, “Shifting Times: The Evolution of the American Workplace,” Federal reserve Bank of St. Louis, December 11, 2017,

[9] Jarol B. Manheim, “The Emerging Role of Worker Centers in Union Organizing,” U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 2017,

[10] Vincent Vernuccio, “Worker Centers – A Primer,” Institute for the American Worker,

[11] 29 USC § 402(i).

[12] OLMS Interpretive Manual, section 030.610.

[13] 29 U.S.C. § 152(5).

[14]  E.I. du Pont & Co., 311 NLRB 893 (1993).

[15] National Labor Relations Board v. Cabot Carbon Co., 360 U.S. 203 (1959).

[16] Protesting Citizens and its Agent Elvin Winn, Case 15-CC-681, NLRB Advice Memorandum, August 30, 1977.

[17] Jaclyn Diaz, “Worker Group That Took on Target is Union, Labor Department Says,” Bloomberg Law, November 19, 2019,

[18] U.S. Department of Labor OLMS Letter to CTUL, August 15, 2019,

[19] Ibid.

[20] Jarol Manheim, “The Death of A Thousand Cuts: Corporate Campaigns and the Attack on the Corporation,” Routledge, November 1, 2000,

[21] Alan Hyde, “New Institutions for Worker Representation in the United States: Some Theoretical Issues,” Cornell Law School, January 6, 2006,

[22] Steele v. Louisville & NR. Co., 323 U.S. 192 (1944),

[23] Vincent Vernuccio, “Worker’s Choice: Freeing Unions and Workers from Forced Representation,” Mackinac Center, June 2, 2015,

[24] Emporium Capwell Co. v. Western Addition Community Organization, 420 U.S. 50 (1975),

[25] Jacob Silvrman, “How Does amazon End,” The New Republic, August 9, 2021,

[26] Athena, “Letter to FTC on Corporate Surveillance,” Medium, July 29, 2021,

[27] Athena, “Stop Amazon’s Injury Crisis: End Amazon’s Dangerous and Punitive Worker Surveillance,” Medium, June 21, 2021,

[28] Athena, “Monopoly Is No Game. Break Up Amazon,” Action Network, Accessed on September 21, 2021,

[29] Ben Fox Rubin, “Amazon fires warehouse worker who organized Staten Island protest,” CNET, March 31, 2020,

[30] Katie Johnston, “Local workers’ groups, investors push back against Amazon,” Boston Globe, May 25, 2021,

[31] Athena, “#AmazonHurts – Street Heat Day of Action,” Action Network, Accessed on September 21, 2021,

[32] Ibid.

[33] Athena, “Tell Amazon: Give ALL Workers 100% Paid Leave NOW and Tell Us Your Plans,” Action Network, Accessed on September 21,

[34] Athena, “Amazon: End disciplining associates for TOT,” Action Network, Accessed on September 21, 2021,

[35] Athena, “Tell Amazon: Reinstate Fired Workers Organizing for Health and Safety Protections in Warehouses,” Action Network, Accessed September 21, 2021,

[36] “About the Fair Food Program,” Fair Food Program, Accessed on September 21, 2021,

[37] “FAIR FOOD CODE OF CONDUCT,” Fair Foods Standards Council, Accessed on September 23, 2021,

[38] Connor Wolf, “Wendy’s Denies Worker Rights Pledge Over Questionable Fees,” Inside Sources, October 20, 2016,

[39] “Fair Food Pray-in at Publix!,” Coalition for Immokalee Workers, August 20, 2011,

[40] “Why Boycott Wendy’s?” Boycott Wendy’s, Accessed on September 23, 2021,

[41] “Coalition of Immokalee Workers – Boycott the Bell!,” Coalition for Immokalee Workers, Accessed on September 23, 2021, from

[42] “ACTION ALERT! The Wendy’s shareholder meeting is just days away and the Fair Food Nation needs your help!…,” Coalition for Immokalee Workers, May 12, 2017,

[43] “Partners,” Fair Food Program, Accessed on September 23, 2021,

[44] Connor Wolf, “Wendy’s Denies Worker Rights Pledge Over Questionable Fees,” Inside Sources, October 20, 2016,

[45] “ACTION ALERT: “Demanding Dignity for Farmworkers” Week of Action, April 5-11!,” Coalition for Immokalee Workers, March 9, 2021,

[46] “Follow the money? Yes, of course! But where, exactly?…,” Coalition for Immokalee Workers, February 26, 2020,

[47] “BIG ANNOUNCEMENT: Student/Farmworker Alliance launches Deliver With Dignity!,” Coalition for Immokalee Workers, November 18, 2020,

[48] Jessica Wohl, “Wal-Mart files U.S. labor charge against union,” Reuters, November 16. 2012,

[49] Emily Jane Fox, “Why Wal-Mart workers are striking on Black Friday,” CNN Money, November 21, 2012,

[50] James O’Toole, “Wal-Mart protesters arrested at Black Friday rallies,” CNN Business, November 23, 2013,

[51] “Recognitional picketing (Section 8(b)(7)),” National Labor Relations Board, Accessed on September 23, 2021,

[52] Keahn Morris & John Bolesta, “The NLRB Confirms that Intermittent Strikes in Furtherance of the Same Goal are Unprotected,” Labor & Employment Law Blog,

[53] “United for Respect.” Accessed on September 23, 2021,

[54] “Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart),” Worker Centers, Accessed on September 23, 2021,

[55] “The Fight for Good Jobs,” United for Respect, Accessed September 23, 2021,

[56] “United for Respect at Walmart,” United for Respect, September 23, 2021,

[57] “EMPLOYEES REACT TO WALMART’S MEMO ON CORONAVIRUS,” United for Respect, March 3, 2020,





[62] Ibid.

[63] Ibid.

[64] Sarah Jones, “Walmart Workers Are Dying From the Coronavirus. Now They Want a Seat at the Table,” NY Mag, May 26, 2020,

[65] “Cyndi Murray,” Key Wiki, Accessed on September 23, 2021,

[66] “EMPLOYEES REACT TO WALMART’S MEMO ON CORONAVIRUS,” United for Respect, March 3, 2020,


[68] “EMPLOYEES REACT TO WALMART’S MEMO ON CORONAVIRUS,” United for Respect, March 3, 2020,

[69] Workers Defense Project, “About Us,” Accessed on October 26, 2021,

[70] Workers Defense Project, “Get Involved,” Accessed on October 26, 2021,

[71] Brad Johnson, “Texas’ Workers Defense Project Hit with Official Department of Labor Complaint,” The Texan News, August 9, 2019,

[72] “Texas Construction Watch, May 2018,

[73] “Profiles of the Residential Construction Workforce and the Workers Defense Project,” July, 2017,

[74] Jay Root, “Injured Worker’s Ex-Employer Denies Retaliation, The Texas Tribune, November, 23, 2013,

[75] Kyle Dishongh, “UH’s failure to act for Quad workers is embarrassing and shameful,” February 5, 2020,

[76] Matt Peterson, “Protesters at Dallas City Hall seek mandatory breaks for low-wage laborers,” The Dallas Morning News, September 29, 2015,



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