Johnson Controls Inc. has a neutrality agreement with the United Auto Workers (UAW). In the summer of 2002, the UAW conducted ruinous strikes at several Johnson Control facilities. These strikes pressured Johnson Controls to enter into a neutrality agreement with the UAW that covers 26 unrelated non-union facilities throughout the U.S. The exact terms of this agreement are a closely guarded secret.

Under the neutrality agreement, Johnson Controls agreed to hand over its employees to the UAW by purposefully making it “easier” for the union to represent them. In short, the company sold several thousand of its workers to the UAW to buy labor peace at its unionized plants.

Provisions of the Johnson Controls – UAW neutrality agreement are believed to include:

  • No Secret Ballot Election: Workers are denied the ability to vote on UAW representation through a secret ballot election. Rather, union operatives are allowed to sign up workers under a “card check” authorization scheme. Once UAW officials sign up a majority of the workers, the company will automatically declare the UAW the exclusive representative of all the workers, even those who did not sign a card. In “card check” unionization drives, workers are often misled, harassed, or threatened into signing union authorization cards.

  • Access to Information: Johnson Controls must provide UAW operatives with wide access to company facilities and to personal information about employees, including their home addresses. Armed with a company-provided list of the names and addresses of each employee, UAW organizers can conduct home visits to pressure employees to sign union authorization cards.

  • Gag Rule: Johnson Controls, including its managers and supervisors, is prohibited from saying anything negative about the UAW or unionization during an organizing drive. Employees are only permitted to hear one side of the story: the version UAW officials want employees to hear.

  • Captive Audience Speeches: Johnson Controls employees have been forced to attend company-paid “captive audience” speeches under this neutrality agreement. In these mandatory meetings, the UAW and company management work together to pressure employees to sign union authorization cards. In one Johnson Controls facility, it was strongly implied that if workers did not support the union’s organizing effort, they risked losing potential job opportunities. (A copy of the text of a captive audience speech is available by clicking here.)

If the UAW and Johnson Controls can successfully cause a majority of employees in a facility to sign union authorization cards, the UAW becomes the “exclusive bargaining representative” of all employees, even those who did not sign a card and do not desire such “representation.” Unless the facility is in a Right to Work state (click here for a list of Right to Work states), all employees will undoubtedly be forced to pay hundred of dollars in dues and fees to UAW each year or be fired from their jobs. The union cannot be removed (decertified) for at least one year or during most of the three-year life of a collective bargaining agreement.

Employees’ rights of free choice are sacrificed and lost under such coercive neutrality agreements. Instead of being able to freely choose for themselves whether they desire union representation through a secret ballot election, Johnson Controls employees are having unionization imposed on them from the top down by the joint efforts of union officials and management.

The Foundation has established a Neutrality Task Force to help employees who find themselves forced (or potentially forced) into unwanted union representation as a result of these devices. The Foundation stands ready, willing and able to help employees who are victims or potential victims of these schemes. Workers who wish to request legal assistance may write us, call us toll-free at 800-336-3600, or send an e-mail message to Address your request for assistance to Legal Department.

Foundation News Releases on the Johnson Controls Neutrality Agreement:

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, is assisting thousands of employees in more than 300 cases nationwide.

For more, see our “Neutrality Agreement” Resouces Section.