Fighting Union Busters in a Carolina Carpet Mill

An Organizer’s Memoir


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About the Book

In 2017, Workers United/SEIU called veteran organizer Phil Cohen out of retirement to investigate and expose a union-busting plot by Mohawk Industries at a North Carolina carpet mill. His hard-hitting account chronicles the resulting labor dispute that rocked a Fortune 500 company. The organizer had to prove management was behind an illegal decertification petition and forced workers to sign using strong-arm tactics. Though terrified of retaliation, witnesses gradually agreed to testify before federal agents. Mohawk retained a high-powered union-busting attorney who appealed directly to ultra-conservative heads of the National Labor Relations Board, while Right to Work Committee lawyers framed the issue as a test case to revoke laws protecting employee rights. The union’s only hope rested on presenting evidence too formidable for political bias to surmount. This memoir, infused with dry wit and insights into human nature, blows the lid off the nation’s union-busting epidemic, thrusting readers into the tumultuous environment of a union hall in crisis.

About the Author(s)

Phil Cohen emerged from a tough working class background to become one of the labor movement’s most celebrated field agents responsible for landmark decisions by the National Labor Relations Board and OSHA.

Bibliographic Details

Phil Cohen

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 208
Bibliographic Info: 7 photos, index
Copyright Date: 2020
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8304-1
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4105-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments v
Author’s Note 1
Prologue 3

Part One. The Campaign
1. The Committee 9
2. Meeting with Witnesses 21
3. Plant Tour 41
4. Labor Board Investigation 62
5. The Three Girls 67
6. The Union Busting Lawyer 74
7. Federal Agent’s Grim Forecast 81

Part Two. The Case Unfolds
8. National Right to Work Attorneys 91
9. Illegal Discharge 102
10. Cartoons 109
11. Labor Board Decision 111
12. Becoming a Test Case 118
13. Union Lawyers 129
14. Preparing for Trial 138
15. Injured Workers 152

Part Three. Aftermath
16. Compliance Period 161
17. The Tornado 167
18. House Calls 172
19. Shop Floor Confrontation 177
20. A Barrage of New Issues 184

Index 199