Anonymous Twitter user @FellyThelly blew up their (apparent) employer’s spot the other day when they posted photos of anti-union training materials from Office Depot. Later, they acquired the entire manual from another employee, titled, “Labor Relations Training for Office Depot Supervisors and Managers.” The user compiled the tweet thread into the Imgur post below.
The materials, which appear to be in the form of a booklet, are step by step instructions on how to spot workers beginning to organize at an Office Depot or Office Max franchise and stop them before they unionize.
“Organizing efforts can surface at any point however given the influx of seasonal associates at this time of year it is a good time to reiterate the material we’ll be sharing today,” one of the first pages reads. The authors note that they’ve been informed by “anonymous associate[s]” that there are unionization attempts afoot at some stores.
Another page claims that “union rules diminish employee participation in workplace decision making,” which is a truly incredible take on what happens when workers have more democratic control over their conditions.
The two pages of conspiratorial “Early Warning Signs” are probably the funniest part of the presentation. These signs apparently include “small groups of associates having conversations in areas other than break rooms” and “associates using buzz words such as ‘collective bargaining,’ ‘organizing,’ ‘protected activity,’ [and] ‘knowing one’s rights.’” Can’t have your employees knowing their rights!
“No matter how trivial the signs may seem, early warning signs must not be ignored,” another page reads, solemnly.
Unsurprisingly, the case made by Office Depot against unions doesn’t ring true. Even their warnings about high union dues come off as fearmongering. It’s not hard for most workers to figure out that a company that exploits them for profit doesn’t share their interests. And if unionizing were truly so terrible for workers, it probably wouldn’t be necessary to conduct an entire training on how to stop it from happening.
We’ve reached out to Office Depot for comment and will update with any response.
Shoutout to class traitors everywhere.
UPDATE, 6:17 pm ET, 7/24/2018:
Splinter was able to speak with the Twitter user who posted the manual. They said they have been employed by Office Depot for seven years and are currently in a supervisory position.
“They make a big deal about union stuff when you first get hired, it’s a whole module on the training, but this meeting was one I technically wasn’t supposed to be in,” they told Splinter over Twitter DM. “My manager didn’t feel like sitting through it so he had me join the call and go on mute and wanted me to just ‘tell him what happened’ when it was over.”
“I can understand why people would [want to unionize] though, the pay is....bad...like...really bad, for the work they expect to be done,” they said.
“I feel like [the tactics are] extremely dishonest and shows that they don’t have the best interest of the employees at heart,” they told Splinter. “Rather than saying ‘Hey, X is wrong...maybe we should fix it,’ they’re trying to treat the outcome (unionization) rather than the cause (poor treatment, poor pay, lack of respect).”
We have still had no response from Office Depot.