Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Military Contractors Use a Military Base as a Venue for Anti-Union Propaganda

I don't know whom this poster is aimed at, but given the slogan is "Strength on Your side" it clearly isn't aimed at its employees.
It appears that General Dynamics one of those lovely arms contractors, has been caught using a military base to force its employees to watch anti union videos before they were due to take part in a union ballot.

From FSRN
 

"A military contractor and weapons manufacturer with facilities on an army base in Washington State forced employees to watch anti-union videos ahead of an important union vote. That’s according to an investigation from In These Times, which examined the practices of General Dynamics Land Systems at Fort Lewis, Washington. Employees, many of whom are military veterans, also allege the company routinely told them that if they joined the union, they could lose the government contract. The story by In These Times reporter Mike Elk has prompted a Labor Department investigation. Mike Elk joins us now to tell us more about this story. To follow Elk’s coverage in Working In These Times:"

The original article from In These Times. "Jason Croic is a Marine combat veteran who served 28 months in Iraq. When he came home, he found a job working for $18 an hour as a mechanic on Stryker vehicles for General Dynamics Land Systems in Fort Lewis, Washington. Croic now has a new combatant, as his employer is attempting to stop him and his fellow contractors from joining Local 286 of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE)." “We have had these meetings where they provided one side of the story,” says Croic. “The message is we won’t be as employable to the Army as we are now because we won’t be as versatile. Being non-union, they say we are more attractive to the Army because we can be moved around easier.”

Now aside from the outrage  at a very egregious example of work place bullying, what sticks out to me is the implications of immunity big companies must feel in order to get away with stunts like this. Most of the staff subjected to these screenings were Veterans, Vets aren't exactly famous for being timid. The fact that this all took place just before a Union vote is also rather stupid bold as that heavily implies that the staff would at least be aware of things like Labour rights and Labour advocacy groups like  you know Unions whom can give them support if they feel taken advantage of. Then there's the fact this took place on a military base, Americans both in Government and in general are quite proud of there armed forces and really don't like it when others draw them into disrepute. Using one of there bases to influence there labour force does reflect negatively on the services as it implies either the military agrees with the company or is extremely negligent to the point that even its own bases are out of its control. Doing this all on a base is just asking for an investigation (currently under way) and a storm of bad PR (if the media actually bothered to cover work place stories beyond tedious stock market numbers and free advertising for the big wigs). Hell the fact that this was done on at all is troubling, even if the propaganda worked and the vote on joining was a landslide No vote like the company wanted, it only takes one of the staff to raise a fuss like say Jason Croic to start trouble.

 General Dynamics is an military contractor which is the holiest of holies in the Neo-Liberal West, and is thus treated with the appropriate levels of reverence, the obvious fact that entwining Nation States with companies whose sole purpose is to enrich themselves, and whose preferred method for enrichment is producing tools of destruction might lock governments into a war mentality seems not to cause our current generation of rulers. Even Eisenhower a former General and Republican President was aware of just how dangerous the "Military-Industrial Complex" would turn out if it wasn't successfully reigned in.

"Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.
This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist."


I think General Dynamics exposure is a clear remainder of the dangers of letting corporate entities feel "untouchable". The mess of the world economy shows the devastation they can cause with finances, investment and infrastructure but its actions like these I feel really hammer home the point that the corporate giant may well be Big but its Seldom Friendly.


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