- Worker supports the union obviously enough that management finds out.
- Management fires the person even though it is illegal to fire workers for union activity.
- The worker has problems paying bills, etc.
- After the drive is resolved (for or against a new union), Management quietly settles and pays back wages for the illegal firing.
This can obviously have a chilling impact on the drive.
That's the problem, here is my solution:
Create a special loan product that will pay the worker their normal wages until the drive is settled. The collateral for the loan is the backpay obligation from the employer (not including the penalty).
Most of the time, backpay eventually arrives and the union is reimbursed. In this case, the worker gets money immediately and over the period from firing to settlement. Morale doesn't suffer. The worker keeps the penalty (or perhaps shares it with the union activism fund). The union loses the opportunity cost of the capital, but ends up with a lump sum. In this case the forgone interest on the small amount of money pales in comparison to the increased momentum on an organizing drive.
Some of the time though, backpay doesn't come through. Anyone know how often this happens? In that case the union has blunted the intimidation power of the firing but expends capital to do it.
On balance, it seems like the cumulative benefits in the more common cases exceed the costs in the rare bad case and organizing is strengthened in all cases.