Trump & the Union-Busters: Co-Founder of Reactionary Union Busting Company Handled Labor Relations at Trump Casinos

Matthew Hunt
Trump as Janus. This work, “Trump as Janus”, is a derivative of “ kennedy and trump” by Peter Minister, used under CC BY-NC 3.0. “Trump as Janus” is licensed under CC BY-NC 3.0 by Matthew Hunt.

Kulture Consulting, aka the “Ayn Rand-promoting anti-union organization” , is a union-busting company that’s been hired by businesses including Whole Foods, Coca Cola, Petco, Toys R Us and even the city of Winter Park in Florida. One of the co-founders of Kulture is James K. Hulsizer. Hulsizer was born in New Jersey in 1959. After getting a BS in Industrial and Labor Relations from Northeastern University he became an organizer and business agent for Teamsters Local 331. He then “…left the union movement and joined the management team at Trump Taj Mahal — with one of his first assignments being the education of non-union workers on the effects of unionization.”

In an interview in the early 2000’s Hulsizer explains that “…he left the Teamsters because he got sick of selling a defective product: In 80% of the companies that he organized, he claimed, the union did not succeed in obtaining a new labor contract. ‘I kept meeting people I’d organized years before who still didn’t have a collective-bargaining agreement,’ he said. ‘And they’d be very pissed off at me. I was selling the product, but the union wasn’t delivering.’ ” 80% is actually the exact number cited in a study for successfully getting a first contract while another study shows that an estimated 47% of second contracts are successful. Both studies are from around the time Hulsizer worked for the Teamsters.

Hulsizer became the Corporate Manager and or Director of Employee and Labor Relations for Trump Casino Services, LLC with its “15,000-plus workforce” in the “three Trump Casino properties in Atlantic City.” He worked for Trump from 1990 to 2000. Then in 2003, he would go on to found Kulture Consulting with Peter List. List would be CEO and Hulsizer COO. Next door to what was the Trump Taj was Resorts Atlantic City which Trump and Merv Griffin fought over in 1988 with Griffin taking control of Resorts. From 1989 to 1996 Joanne Gitto-Davis was the Director of Employee and Labor Relations at Merv Griffin Resorts in Atlantic City. Years later Gitto-Davis would end up working with Hulsizer at Kulture Consulting.

In April of 2007 Trump again employed Hulsizer by hiring Kulture Consulting in response to an election filed by UAW. Kulture was paid $175,393 from May to October of that year. The election was close but workers voted no. It was later determined by an Administrative Law Judge and the NLRB that the company had committed multiple unfair labor practices. It was even written that the company had “..engaged in objectionable conduct by interrogating employees regarding their union sympathies, by threatening that supervisors would no longer grant employees’ requests for time off, approve schedule changes, or correct no-call/no-show designations, and by threatening that employees would lose their jobs if they selected the Union to represent them.” A second election was ordered due to the illegal activity. Trump hired Kulture again in April 2008 paying $9,944. The orders of the NLRB were appealed by Trump until the company filed for bankruptcy in 2011 and was bought by the Golden Nugget.

Fast forward to 2014 and another union-busting company has been hired for the Trump-Ruffin Hotel, aka Trump International Hotel, in Las Vegas. The company this time is LRI Consulting Services, Inc. The president of LRI is Phillip Wilson while the registered agent is Donald P. Wilson. Phillip writes that “LRI is the preeminent firm in union avoidance and countering union organizing campaigns with more than 10,000 successful campaigns to our credit.” One union-buster brought in by LRI is a former union president by the name of Joseph Brock . Brock comes from East Coast Labor Relations Inc, and is also the president of Reliant Labor Consultants. On Reliant’s website there’s a video of Brock talking about growing up in a union household and eventually becoming the president of Teamsters Local 830. He states that “when I became the president of the union, I come to learn that we were not a social cause fighting greedy corporations, we were a greedy corporation.” According to Brock’s Linkedin, he began at LRI and Reliant in 2007. Reliant is registered to Byron Clay, a senior consultant for Reliant and LRI, in Indiana.

The other union-buster, a former organizer for Teamsters Local 396, is Evelyn Fragoso. Fragoso is a senior consultant for Reliant and the president of Quality Labor Solutions Inc. On Reliant’s website is another video with Fragoso talking about how she realized from her years in the labor movement that “…it’s a lot easier to work directly with the companies in order to better the working conditions for employees.” Brock was paid $187.50 per hour plus expenses according to one document while a different one shows he was paid $7,046. Another document shows that one payment of $13,046 and a second one of $12,368 was made to LRI Consulting. The last bullet point under the section “Objectives” in documents from LRI to Trump International is “Prevent NLRB petitions”. Some of LRI’s recent clients include Dollar General and the world’s largest manufacturer of gyros Kronos Foods.

In 2015, at Trump International Hotel again, a new union-busting company has been brought in. Cruz and Associates begin an agreement in March. Cruz and Associates is headed by a former Unite Here organizer Lupe Cruz. Also listed as union-busters were Erick Cruz, Edward Echanique of Labor Relations Consulting, Manny Avalos of Labor Management Consulting and Juan Cruz of Reconnect Consulting. An election is filed and is set for June 25th but is canceled. Another election date is set for December and the workers vote yes to a union. $560,631 was paid to Cruz and Associates throughout 2015 and $293,327 was paid in 2016.

Trump and Ruffin refused to recognize the election until December 2016. Trump International was charged with engaging in multiple unfair labor practices. Trump International even paid two workers in a settlement because “…the company fired a union supporter and denied a transfer to a full-time job to another, while promising more job opportunities to workers if they abandoned their support for the Union.” Management even agreed to not interfere with organizing at Trump International in Washington D.C, which voted to join Unite Here in January of 2017. Cruz and Associates have recently worked for big companies such as XPO Logistics and American Apparel.

Earlier this year Hulsizer passed away. Kulture Consulting is still run by the far-right activist Peter List. List also began in the labor movement years ago as a member of CWA. He became a senior shop steward and even edited the local union newspaper. In 1992 his job at AT&T was outsourced to Mexico. He then went to college for Labor Relations where he began to develop his extreme anti-union views. List, who was involved with the proto-Trumpian movement known as Groundswell, wrote years ago that people “…who believe that entitlements, high taxes, strangling labor laws, environmental regulations, unending illegal immigration and tax-the-rich schemes will somehow lead them into the promised land of prosperity” are “parasites.” He blames Democrats, who killed a universal healthcare bill last year, for such polices as well as “progressivism” which he writes has “contaminated” California. One of Kulture’s current, and past clients, is SugarHouse casino. SugarHouse is owned by billionaire real-estate oligarch Neil Bluhm. Bluhm has contributed heavily to the Democratic party including right-wing Democrats like Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Rahm Emanuel.

Matthew Hunt

Written by

One of the founders of Whole Worker & former Whole Foods employee fired for union organizing. —

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