The violent birth pangs of organized labor in the late 19th and early 20th century often resulted in heavy damage to facilities and injuries, sometimes death, to those who were protesting for worker’s rights. The infamous “Ford Massacre” in March 1932 resulted in 5 deaths and 60 injuries when Ford Motor Company’s Chief of Security, Harry Bennett, ordered his private squad of untrained and unprofessional “security guards” to open fire on 4,000 former auto workers who had marched on Ford’s Dearborn plant. The marchers were petitioning Ford for basic assistance so they could buy food and coal to heat their homes.
The National Labor Relations Act of 1935 gave workers who are members of an organized union the right to strike for higher wages and safer working conditions. It also put some boundaries in place to control the violence. Strikers who engage in “serious misconduct’ during a strike may be refused reinstatement to their former jobs. Serious misconduct includes:
- Strikers damaging property, equipment, or materials of the employer.
- Strikers physically blocking persons from entering or leaving a struck plant.
- Strikers threatening violence against non-striking employees.
- Strikers attacking management representatives.
It has been our experience that when workers feel they have no recourse but to call for a strike, emotions often run high and tempers sometimes flare. People can do things in the heat of the moment which destroy trust and undermine any opportunity for a peaceful, positive or timely solution. At Teachout Security, our primary objective when formulating a Strike Security Plan is to protect people, property and operational capabilities. That is why employers call us in to perform a Strike Security Audit when they first begin hearing rumors of labor unrest.
Strike security audit
Our team of experienced security professionals starts by determining who the players are – on both sides. We first identify essential management and non-union personnel who will be working through the strike period. We also determine the level, if any, of executive protection they and their families might require.
Next, we identify employees belonging to other unions and employees belonging to the striking union who will be working during the strike. The purpose of this is to determine their requirements for safely and easily getting in and out of the facility once the picket lines go up. We also want to monitor anyone who may be tempted to engage in any form of subversion during the strike action.
It is also important for us to identify the strikers; especially the union leaders and negotiators who may need direct access to management during negotiations. We also want to identify those individuals who will be in charge of the picketing activities, those who are likely to be agitators, and those who may be “persons of interest” due to past performance or historical record. Local law enforcement can help us determine whether we have bad actors with whom we should be specifically concerned.
Finally, the personnel portion of our Strike Security Audit identifies customers, suppliers, service providers, vendors and local law enforcement personnel who may need access to the facilities during the labor dispute.
The property portion of our Strike Security Audit involves having Teachout personnel survey the perimeter of the property to determine if there are any uncontrolled access points. We also suggest that all keycards and door codes be changed for the duration of the strike to better control who comes and goes. We identify various points where additional surveillance equipment should be installed to monitor picket line activity while complying with state and federal laws, employee parking lots, delivery docks and other points of vulnerability.
The third and final portion of the Teachout Strike Security Audit covers the process of maintaining the facility’s operational capabilities over the course of the labor action. Protocols are developed for safely and efficiently getting personnel and materials in and out of the facility. We also develop command-and-control protocols and communications channels with local law enforcement. Fortunately, many of our security professionals are former military and law enforcement. They are trained in the use of non-lethal, non-confrontational management of protestors.
At Teachout Security Solutions, our priority is to maintain a peaceful, respectful, and cooperative relationship with those individuals who are exercising their rights under the law while also protecting the rights and property of the employer. Our objective is that these situations have win-win conclusions for all.