By Kurt Richwerger
Frank Natalie spent his last 14 years an elected business agent in Local 7 (Albany, NY) of the Plumbers union (the United Association). Now that he is retired, he is offering his long experience as a BA and union democracy advocate to his former members. Natalie is, he says, besieged with questions about union matters despite his retirement. But he wants to stay active.
Natalie is in the process of developing a blog. He intends to use the blog to aid in teaching fellow unionists about the LMRDA, their rights, and union election procedures. For instance, Natalie finds that many members are interested in getting involved and running for office, but don’t fully appreciate the limits of the union election law. During a campaign, they may put too much faith in a getting a Department of Labor (DoL) supervised rerun election if an opponent violates the rules. As we know, violations do occur, but the DoL will not conduct a rerun unless in their opinion the violation(s) may have affected the outcome. Thus, it is important to make a good showing even if there are grounds for a complaint.
To help get the word out, Natalie plans on posting material from sources such as AUD and DoL to inform those members about the real world of union democracy election rights. Regarding an election issue that arose in his old local, Natalie found a selection from the Office of Labor Management Standards (OLMS) Interpretive Manual helpful. He told us “The information you sent to me couldn’t have come at a better time. I read the case Wirtz v. Local Union No. 125 and it has several parallels relevant to the current complaint before the UA regarding Local 7’s recent election…As a matter a fact I scheduled a meeting with the Officers that filed the election complaints to talk about the information you provided so thank you much!
Here is what AUD shared with Natalie. Perhaps others will find it useful.
From the OLMS Interpretative Manual (https://www.dol.gov/agencies/olms/regs/compliance/interp_manual/interpretativemanual)
Brother Natalie is active in other labor issues. He is urging the NYS Dept. of Labor to more aggressively enforce the state’s new paid sick leave law. “I started to receive calls from members and union representatives alike complaining that employers were refusing to allow their employees SL they earned as required by this legislation, enacted on Sept. 30, 2020.”
Natalie wrote a letter to NYS Commissioner Roberta Reardon asking for an investigation and cc’d several NYS legislators, who promptly told Frank that they would look into the matter immediately. Natalie appeared on two press outlets on the topic, and believes he is getting some traction.