Listen to the full recording from the Iron Mountain meeting in the above player.
A leaked audio recording showing managers trying to talk their truck driver employees out of joining a union was published by Gawker Tuesday. The recording provides a small insight into the difficulties U.S. workers face when trying to organize.
A group of managers at the Deluth, Ga., facility of Iron Mountain, a global storage company, gathered the truck drivers to “educate” them about unionization, according to the recording. But the lesson, which came ahead of a worker vote on whether to unionize, was largely one-sided.
Managers reminded workers that a union would “make things much more difficult,” that “this is the South” (where unionization is less prevalent) and that workers would have to decide whether they wanted to join the union and then live with the consequences during their upcoming contract negotiation.
“Remember this is a huge decision,” one of the managers said in the recording. “It’s a change that you will have to live with for three years.”
Towards the end of the meeting, one of the managers unironically adds, “let’s just keep it intimidation free,” referring to union representatives' efforts to talk with workers.
Iron Mountain spokesman Dan O'Neill confirmed in an email to The Huffington Post that the recording captures "our manager’s efforts to begin educating our employees." Still, he said, the company can't verify whether the recording is complete or unedited.
"Our intent in these meetings is to inform employees, not to pressure them as the union alleges," O'Neill wrote. "We respect our employees’ legal right to form unions. We are committed to ensuring they’re properly and legally educated to make an informed decision. We care about our employees and believe we’re in the best position to reward them with competitive pay and benefits for their talents and hard work."
As Gawker notes, these educational sessions are relatively common. Activists have accused Walmart, major fast food chains and others of taking workers aside in an aim to keep them from joining a union. And they may be part of the reason unionization has been on the decline in recent years.
Researchers have linked the precipitous drop in union membership -- from nearly 30 percent in the late 1960s to 11.8 percent in 2012 -- to multiple worker issues, including increasing income inequality and decline in middle-class incomes.
The fall of unions over the past several decades also enabled the rise in profits at workers' expense, according to a May study by University of Haifa researchers.