What should sleepy Sunday eyes find yesterday on the cover of The Washington Post? An interesting article on the way union officials are changing their tactics to reflect a private-equity world. Of course, union bosses say they have had a steep learning curve, but they are finding ways to adapt:
Other unions have adopted tactics as diverse as the industries they work in. The United Food and Commercial Workers union now routinely negotiates language requiring new grocery store owners to restore any initial wage concessions over the life of a contract. If investors cash out early, a poison-pill clause requires the new owners to make workers whole. The effect, according to UFCW research director Howie Forman, is to give the union leverage to force prospective buyers to the bargaining table.
Several unions have developed relationships with individual equity funds after forging deals that traded certain concessions for guarantees of job security or protection of retirement benefits. Bruce S. Raynor, president of the hotel workers union, Unite Here, said private equity firms Blackstone and Cerberus, which own hotels in major markets, have helped move traditional hotel chains to acquiesce to higher wages and organizing rights.