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Former AK Gov. Sarah Palin recently went on Facebook to denounce AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka -- who delivered a speech on Thursday criticizing Palin for referring to union members as thugs -- saying:

I called some union leaders "thugs." And I refuse to apologize for that because they have acted like thugs - at least in this day and age.

The idea that unions are the biggest threat to the rights of working people flies so greatly in the the face of the reality experienced by countless workers who have been involved in organizing campaigns, that a lie that big can’t be allowed to stand unchallenged.

A May 2009 study of employer opposition to union organizing done by Cornell University researcher Dr. Kate Bronfenbrenner  finds:

• More than 70 percent of employers hold one-on-one closed door meetings with employees during a unionization drive. 54 percent of employers threaten workers in such meetings, while 57 percent threaten to close the worksite

• 75 percent of employers bring in outside anti-union consultants

• 47 percent of employers threaten to cut wages and benefits

• 34 percent of employers fire workers during a union campaign

Bronfenbrenner reports that employers in the 2000s were two times more likely to use these tactics in anti-union campaigns than they were a decade earlier. Workers filed unfair labor practice charges in 40 percent of all union elections, but guilty employers face no real effective reprisals for violating labor law.

Most violations result in an order by the National Labor Relations Board to post a notice promising not to break the law again. Those found guilty of more serious charges, such as illegal termination, are merely required to pay the fired worker’s back pay.  

It’s time for a reality check. The situation faced by most workers resembles those in this video a lot more than Sarah Palin's and her big business allies' fantasies about "union thugs."

Originally posted to Gang of One on Fri Aug 27, 2010 at 12:20 PM PDT.

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