This story was sent to us by an anonymous union member who called looking for help with a hiring hall problem. He was advised by AUD volunteer Bill Barry, a retired labor professor who headed the Labor Studies Program at the Community College of Baltimore County in Maryland for many years.
I have been a very proud union card holder since 2007 and been a member of my IATSE local since 2010. I was on the B-List, a second-tier job call list, for the past 2 years and had been living at the same address since 2008. In April of this year my local’s Executive Board decided to demote me on the call list without notice, allegedly because of where I live, which is not in my local’s jurisdiction. This meant I would get less work, even though I live less than 15 miles from the jurisdiction line. I just came back from a work related injury in late April (two weeks early). When I came back my local put me back to work for a couple of days. I was glad to be back to work after being out for eight weeks. After the couple days of work I did not get any referrals from the local for a while. There were a couple of events that I have worked in the past that I never got a call for. At first I thought it was because it was a slow work season. When I talked to a couple of union members, they asked where I was and that newer people non-members were working. That is when I tried to call my Business Agent to see what was going on, but he did not answer. I called and emailed him several times for several weeks starting at the end of May. Finally after five and a half weeks he called me back. That is when I found out they dropped me on the call list – only after I specifically asked why I was not getting any work calls.
This was the first time heard about it and I was not the only member that this happened to. There were two African-American members (the local’s only African-American members) who asked to move up the call list but were refused by the Executive Board because they did not live in the jurisdiction. It did not seem right to me because I was on the B-List for two years and I did not live in the jurisdiction. Whatever their reasons, this did not make my local look good.
I contacted the National Labor Relations Board to see if it was legal to be demoted because of where you live. The person I spoke to at the Nation Labor Relations Board told me “if you were voted in as a member there is no jurisdiction on where you live.” I never filed a claim with National Labor Relations Board because I was hoping to resolve this without getting a third party involved. I emailed the Executive Board and asked for a Special Executive Board meeting in August to resolve this call list issue. At the Special Executive Board meeting I brought up that since we were voted in as members, jurisdiction should be waived. The Executive Board laughed at me and said I “did not know what I was talking about.” Then I asked why I was on the B-List for two years and nothing was questioned about it until now. They told me I “fell through the cracks.”
That was when I started to look for other help on this issue. I talked to another union member from a different local. He recommended that I check out Association for Union Democracy website. I contacted them and a couple days later they had a retired Labor Law professor helping me out. After talking and emailing with the Labor Law professor for a couple of weeks we came up with a plan. The plan was that I call several members of the local to explain the issues that are happening, asking the Executive Board for my transfer paperwork and a current copy of the Constitution/By-Laws/Call List Procedures, and to bring it up at the next General Members Meeting.
At the General Members Meeting I brought up the Call List issue. At first the Executive Board was not happy that I had brought this up in front of the members but after my statement on the issue and some discussion with members of the local, another member made a motion to waive the jurisdiction on where we live because we were voted into this local as members and should be treated equally. There was a vote and it passed unanimously. I got my spot back on the B-List and the two African-Americans are also allowed to move up the call list. It feels good to get this done and having your union brothers and sisters support you (even the one from other locals too).
–A Proud Union Member