Union Busting is when a company uses their power, wealth, and privilege as an employer to disrupt or intervene when workers organize unions. You can see some tactic is the image. The tactics can vary, but include anything that may mislead, intimidate, coerce, or otherwise frustrate workers to make organizing a union harder than it already is.
We believe that although these tactics are sometimes legal, they are always immoral and unethical. Why?
First of all, the right to form a union is a Human Right, as enshrined in Article 23 (4) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A union is supposed to be the workers’ choice, and the workers’ choice alone. When an employer gets involved, it is a disruption of democracy. That’s why we say “Union Busting is Anti-Democratic”.
In our view, Lush’s union busting is also unethical because it seems to violate their own standards, and because the values of the labour movement align so well with Lush’s image and the movements they support including fighting climate change, social justice, and freedom of movement.
Democracy is about equality and making free and informed choices. That means that people need to have full and equal access to information, freely express their views, and ultimately vote how they want to.
So, for example, when a company pulls a union supporter into Human Resources for a discussion about their union activity or disciplines or threatens discipline to workers who have shown union support they are intimidating not only those workers but their co-workers.
Some companies limit worker access to union resources and so their right to make a free and informed decision, while at the same time flooding employees with the company’s anti-union message. These companies hold mandatory anti-union meetings during work time, distribute their own anti-union leaflets to every employee, and/or have their managers speak directly to employees about the employers’ anti-union views. In these cases, the company is deliberately tilting the scales. Those companies don’t, for example, invite union supporters to hold their own meetings on work time or distribute pro-union flyers in the workplace.
An environment where people cannot freely express themselves on the choice whether or not to unionize and are not given equal opportunity to share and access information is a fundamentally unequal playing field. When a company does this, they are using their power and their position as an employer to disrupt the democratic process so that they can maintain control.
This is anti-democratic.
Lush Recognizes the importance of unions and collective bargaining. For example, unions are mentioned in Lush North Americas Ethical Buying Policy, and Lush has sponsored and worked directly with unions through the charity pot program:
If unions and collective bargaining are a basis for ethical purchasing from other companies, and a worthy cause for donation, then surely it is also the basis for ethical employment within Lush
So why would Lush warn people about unions?
Union’s are about confronting power relations. Power relations are the foundation for Black, Indigenous, Queer, and Trans people’s movements. If Lush recognizes the importance of, and supports these movements, why not address working class power relations in their own house?
Further, many workers at the floor level are from these marginalized communities, and having a union will help empower their voices within the company.
Why campaign against this for their own workers?
We know that the effects of climate change hit poor and racialized communities harder. Without recognizing power relations in how we approach a green future, we will only reproduce the same inequalities that exist now.
One of the biggest hurdles for the environmental movement in transitioning to a green economy is the question of jobs. Traditionally, many unionized jobs, and the highest paid jobs, are in industries that we have come to see as environmentally unfriendly. As we transition out of these polluting industries, we have to make sure that service jobs, and clean manufacturing jobs offer a comparable standard of living. Unions are the reason that these jobs are good in the first place, so unionizing these new sectors is important to ensure a comparable standard of living.
Lush shared an article by Toronto and York region labour leader John Cartwright supporting the need for unionization and a Just Transition. John has since written a piece in response to Lush’s union-busting
Why not be the better example and Lead Fearlessly?
Lush states that it believes in the Freedom of Movement. Movement is more than just physical or geographic; it is also social and economic. Migrant justice movements and organizers around the world, including many that Lush has partnered with understand that freedom of movement can only truly be free without coercion, including the coercive forces of war, climate change, and economic insecurity. All people who move abroad and seek employment, like the many immigrant workers found throughout Lush, should have security and the rights to a voice that a union affords them. They should be free to fully participate in the democratic process of choosing a union without worrying about their own status, documentation, or employment.
Why not Do It With Heart and commit all the way?