Demonstrators holding signs reading "Our Sweat Is Not Free" and "Greed" in Spanish
listen to speakers in front of the Burger King headquarters building in Miami.

Burger King Cracks Down on Anti-Union Activity

May 16, 2008 04:56 PM
by Denis Cummings
Burger King fired two unnamed employees and cut ties with a security firm after reports they were defaming and spying on a tomato-pickers union.

30-Second Summary

Burger King denied all knowledge of the anti-union activity of its employees and security firm Diplomatic Tactical Services Inc.

The activities in question were carried out against the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a group that represents Florida tomato-pickers in their demands for a penny-per-pound wage increase equal to that given by other fast-food companies.

Several Burger King employees and a business partner responded to the workers’ demands with a campaign to infiltrate and discredit union activists.

Burger King Vice President Stephen Grover used his daughter’s YouTube screen-name to post allegations that the coalition was pocketing money intended for workers.

Grover joins a number of other corporate executives caught posting anonymous online comments about their company or a competitor. Last year, Whole Foods CEO John Mackey was caught touting his company’s stock on Yahoo Finance boards.

Burger King also tried to spy on the Student/Farmworkers Alliance, a student activist group working with the CIW. A Burger King employee and DTS President Cara Schaffer called the SFA, claimed to be college students and asked to listen in on a conference call. The SFA did not reveal any sensitive information to them, however.

These tactics recall union-busting tactics used in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Pinkerton Agency was infamous for infiltrating unions until the 1935 National Labor Relations Act outlawed the practice.

Although labor spying is less prevalent today, this case, and others like it, illustrate that spying remains a concern for many employees and unions.

Headline Links: Burger King fires two employees and DTS

Background: Burger King’s labor dispute with tomato-pickers

Related Topic: Corporate online comments scandal

Historical Context: Labor spying


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