As the economy takes a hit and the federal government considers bailouts, unions are chomping at the bit to get the organizing started. An SEIU (Service Employees International Union) internal email was leaked on CNN.com on Monday. In the email, SEIU employees disclose a specific plan to organize employees in the banking industry. The reason for targeting the banking industry? Because “the banking industry is now being infused with billions of dollars.” The email lists specific potential targets for future organizing efforts, including Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Chevy Chase/ B.F. Saul, BB&T, SunTrust, Bank of America/ Countrywide, Wachovia/ Wells Fargo, PNC Bank/ National City, and Citigroup. This list does not mean that SEIU will only target these banks. It is understandable that SEIU would target the biggest banks first—but other banks are surely to follow, especially if the union is welcomed by employees who are nervous about the future of their employment.
As unions anticipate unprecedented changes to federal labor law that will make it far easier for them to organize workers (see EFCA post), economic uncertainty and federal bailouts are providing unions with precisely the talking points they need to convince employees that they are on uncertain ground without a union. As we have been discussing in our EFCA briefing sessions, it is important that employers in all industries develop a proactive strategy now that will protect them against union organizing campaigns in the future.