Coordination between government and activists

I mention in my book how well-connected activist groups can encourage legislators to call hearings and subpoena company leaders as a way of ratcheting up pressure and executive pain. I came across a couple more examples recently of activists and government joining forces.

According to this article, a change in OSHA rules in 2013 is enabling union agents to tag along on OSHA inspections at non-union businesses. When union agents arrive alongside government inspectors, the agents appear to workers to hold positions of authority, gain insider access to company operations, and rattle the nerves of company executives. Moreover, the rule change enables unions to “use the threat of federal inspections against any business that refuses to bend to their wishes.”

Proposed legislation can also be a powerful weapon. In the case of SeaWorld’s ongoing conflict with the makers of Blackfish, a state lawmaker in California has has proposed a bill that would ban SeaWorld from using killer whales in shows at its San Diego theme park. While actual passage of the bill is in doubt, the fresh round of publicity generated by the proposal is itself enough to further damage SeaWorld’s brand.

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