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Responsible Employers

While many companies profess that they must implement massive layoffs, slash benefits, employ temporary and cheap labor, and hire unionbusters to prevent workers from forming unions in order to remain profitable in today’s marketplace, the practices of some businesses suggest there is another way.

American Rights at Work’s Socially Responsible Business Program promotes awareness of socially responsible and ethical corporate labor practices. The Program engages forward-thinking business and labor leaders to develop and promote sound policies and collaborative efforts that sustain workers, businesses, and society at large.

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  1. Partnerships in Education: How Labor-Management Collaboration Is Transforming Public Schools

    In American Rights at Work Education Fund’s new report, Partnerships in Education: How Labor-Management Collaboration Is Transforming Public Schools, we highlight strong labor- management partnerships between teachers’ unions and administrations that are transforming schools in communities from coast to coast. For these students, collective bargaining has provided a path for their teachers and administrators to work together to find solutions and create opportunities. And their success points to the urgent need to protect teachers’ right to collectively bargain—not just for the sake of a dwindling middle class, but for students and their communities, too.

    Read More.

  2. The 2009 Labor Day List: Partnerships that Work

    In the American Rights at Work Education Fund’s fifth annual Labor Day List, we recognize successful partnerships between employers and their employees’ labor unions that are working well in an uncertain global economy. Employers showcased in this year’s report walk the walk when it comes to respecting their own workers’ rights, and now they are going a step further by standing up on behalf of all U.S. workers. Every business profiled in this year’s report has spoken out on the need for meaningful labor law reform. By supporting the Employee Free Choice Act, legislation making it easier for workers to choose to form a union, a new generation of visionary employers is laying the foundation for the financial well-being of workers and businesses alike.

    » Check out the 2009 list.

  3. Unions and Other Community Groups Benefit Local Economic Development

    When workers have a seat at the table, their voices strengthen local economic development and helps ensure fairness, quality jobs, and long-term sustainable growth.

    Labor unions have been responding to the unfair policies of the last several decades by taking action to shape local economic development policies.1  In partnerships with employers, community organizations, and local governments, unions have helped revitalize local economies by saving and expanding family-supporting jobs. This fact sheet contains are some examples of these win/win partnerships.

  4. Unions on the Cutting Edge: A Workforce Trained for the 21st Century

    Unions have a long history of leadership on designing and promoting innovative and effective job training and apprenticeship programs that benefit workers, businesses, and local communities. Now more than ever this country needs workers to have a voice at the table to ensure that the challenges of a new economy are met with fair and effective policies.

  5. The Employee Free Choice Act: Good for Small Business

    Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, employing almost half of the American workforce. Yet, labor law is not ensuring a level playing field for responsible businesses, large and small.  Businesses that comply with the law face unfair competition from companies who refuse to respect the rights of their employees to join unions. The Employee Free Choice Act will give back to small businesses the freedom to compete based on innovation and quality instead of who can afford the most expensive anti-union consultants.

    Small and large businesses across the nation who have respected their employees’ choice to form a union have reported that the sky did not fall – far from it.  In fact, one report found that a higher percentage of unionized workers in a state significantly reduced the probability of small business failures.  More generally, a large body of research demonstrates that firms that become unionized are no more likely to fail than comparable firms that remain non-union. 

    Increased union membership rates will help small businesses by boosting consumer spending, increasing access to training resources, and reducing healthcare costs through plans that pool many unionized workers and small businesses together.

  6. The 2008 Labor Day List: Partnerships that Work

    2008 Labor Day List In the American Rights at Work Education Fund’s fourth annual Labor Day List: Partnerships that Work, we continue to shine the spotlight on positive relationships between employers and their employees. In this year’s Labor Day List, we highlight a geographically diverse group of employers who show that good labor relations are possible in every sector of the economy. Wind turbine manufacturer Gamesa Technology Corporation, the Washington National Opera, and Alabama Power, a utility serving millions of residents in the South, are just a few of this year’s featured employers that prove that strong labor-management partnerships are the key to future success.  By working with their employees and the unions that represent them, Labor Day List employers have well-trained, efficient workforces and are invested in a socially-responsible approach to business that will carry them far in the future.  

    » Check out the 2008 list.

  7. The 2007 Labor Day List: Partnerships that Work

    ldl07cover125.jpg The 2007 Labor Day List features partnerships between successful employers and their employees’ unions that both meet the needs and rights of workers and fulfill business objectives. The practices of the employers we profile buck the current “race to the bottom” trend and eschew hostile labor-management relations. These innovative employers demonstrate there are alternative models which fulfill the needs of their shareholders, employees, and valued customers.

    » Check out the 2007 list.

  8. 2010 Labor Day List: A Model for the Clean Energy Economy

    In our sixth annual Labor Day List: Partnerships that Work, the American Rights at Work Education Fund recognizes employers who practice labor-management cooperation while creating pioneering solutions to the environmental challenges of the 21st century. The eight businesses featured see their workers’ unions as essential partners, and consider environmental stewardship a key component of their business model. At a time when the leadership of bold, visionary employers is in high demand, this year’s Labor Day List companies provide a model for the “win-win-win” economy our country needs—an economy in which businesses thrive, the planet prospers, and workers share in the success they help create.

    » View the 2010 Labor Day List
    » Press Release
    » Download a PDF of the report

  1. Dwayne McAninch, CEO and Chairman of McAninch Corporation

    “They do an excellent job of training, testing, and certifying their members.  We have high standards and so do they, so we fully support the unions.”  

  2. Lew Walker, Cingular’s Vice President of Human Resources Operations and Labor Relations

    "CWA has been a good partner…Some of our best operating properties are represented by the union."

  3. Thomas Kochan, George M. Bunker Profesor of Management, MIT’s Sloan School of Management

    "Labor Day is the perfect time to celebrate the best examples of what American unions and companies can do when they work together.  The partnerships highlighted here show we can meet our nation’s economic challenges and provide good jobs if we listen to each other, respect workers’ rights, and allow the knowledge, skills, and creativity of our workforce to realize their full potential."  

  4. James A. Gloner, Senior Vice President for Management Systems at NPHS

    “If we didn’t work together, the organization would not exist.  The employees and the unions that represent them are the backbone of the organization.” 

  5. Timothy H. Smith, Senior Vice President, Walden Asset Management

    "It is vitally important to celebrate and publicize positive partnerships between companies and their employees.  These partnerships signify meaningful work, work-family balance, mutual respect, decent wages, and benefits.  Thus, ‘Partnerships that Work’ is a timely tribute to companies, big and small, that strive to make their workplaces positive models. In the future, the responsible workplace needs to be a hallmark of U.S. business both at home and abroad." 

  6. Joe Rocks, CEO of NPHS

    “We share the same goals and objectives: patient care, service quality, retention of employees, a living wage, and compliance practices.  We are creating an environment where people want to work for us.”

  7. Jeffrey Pfeffer, Stanford University

    "The companies listed on “The Labor Day List” demonstrate this understanding, and the case studies of labor-management partnerships should be read by all corporate executives.  Kudos to American Rights at Work for putting forth this report."

  8. Shawna Brown, Cingular Customer Service Representative

    “We have a real voice at Cingular now. We will have disagreements with the company, but with CWA we are secure in knowing that we have the right to disagree without consequences.” 

  9. Bill Ihle, Senior Vice President of Corporate Relations at Jackson Perkins

    “We don’t have an adversarial relationship with our union at all.  We look at it as [a contributing factor to] productivity [and] a better product.”  

  10. Rick Bradley, Executive Vice President of Human Resources at Cingular Wireless

    “We believe that employees should have a choice… Making that choice available to them results, in part, in employees who are engaged in the business and who have a passion for customers.”  

  11. Julie Schnell, SEIU Local 113 President

    “We are setting standards that all hospital systems should be working toward.” 

  12. Harry C. Katz, Dean of the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University

    “The fact that Cingular does well even in the face of unionization helps rebut the argument that unions aren’t viable in a technologically sophisticated and dynamic industry.”  

  13. Venita McCellon-Allen, AEP Senior Vice President Shared Services

    “The end product would not have been as valuable without the employees’ involvement.”  

  14. Richard Pettingill, Allina President & CEO

    “Old adversarial models of labor-management relations are outdated.  By involving employees in all stages of decision-making, Allina can improve quality of care and make the company a better place to work.” 

  15. Roberto Zamora, Jackson & Perkins

    "Now, we work like a team…we want the company to grow, and a lot of us have good ideas to make that happen."

  16. Larry Barrett, Cingular Wireless Technician

    “Management didn’t pressure us or try to interfere. Our union campaign was positive and without conflict. We didn’t attack the company and they didn’t attack us. We were focused on improving our jobs and making Cingular  better place to work.” 

  17. Jeffrey Pfeffer Professor, Stanford University

    “In spite of much conventional wisdom about the competitive requirements for pursuing a ‘race to the bottom’ approach, the evidence shows that corporate leaders that genuinely put employees first and work constructively with labor representatives do well even as they do good.” 

  18. Larry Cohen, President, CWA

    “Imagine if this was the experience for all workers in America. It could and it should be this straightforward for men and women to have a free and fair choice to form a union and work in partnership with their employer to make it a success.” 

  19. Robert Boh, President of Boh Brothers

    “Boh Bros. has enjoyed a long and mutually beneficial working relationship with construction unions in South Louisiana,” says President Robert S. Boh.  “We look forward to continuing this partnership as we rebuild the New Orleans area after Hurricane Katrina.”

  20. Lon O’Neil, Senior Vice President for Human Resources at Kaiser Permanente

    "We not only believe it’s the fair thing to do, we also believe it’s the right thing to do for our employees, our health plan members, and also our business."

  21. Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor

    "American Rights at Work’s “Labor Day List: Partnerships that Work” shows once again that companies that treat their workers as assets to be developed do better over the long term than companies that treat their workers as costs to be cut.  Consumers, investors, and CEOs should take note."

  22. Teresa Joyce

    "When the CEO of Cingular responded to a question about unions…I could barely contain my composure.  I heard him say that Cingular has a great relationship with CWA and that each call center would be able to choose whether or not it wanted union representation.  I wanted to shout my joy for all the management to hear.  We had hope!"

About Our Organization

American Rights at Work is a nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to promoting the freedom of workers to organize unions and bargain collectively with employers.


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