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union member intimidation/contract negotiations

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  • union member intimidation/contract negotiations

    I work for a small New York State municipality. I am the president of the union here and have a question I hope someone can help me with.

    We are almost two years into a contract dispute, and have went through the factfinding process and are currently awaiting the mayor and council's decission on imposition.

    Today a supervisor who is also on the city's negotiating team called in three union members to ask them to listen to a phone call. The phone call was from the mayor accusing me of saying something in the union meeting the night before. This supervisor then asked each of the union members if that is what I said during the meeting.

    My question is two fold, did he violate any laws by doing this? Did he violate the taylor law. And is this some form of intimidation?

    My Union, is terrible at getting involved and backing me up on things, and I want to have my ducks in a row before going to them. Any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated!

    Dom - My e-mail address is [email protected]

  • #2
    first - this "meeting" sound an awful lot like an investagatory interview, why would your members not invoke thier weingarten rights (steward or other officer present, and the dicussion STOPS until they are in the room)???

    second - did they discuss the contract negotiations with the bargaining unit members? if so this would violate exclusive representation (if it is in your contract) by "negotiating" with someone other than an authorized rep of the union......

    third - you said your union doesn't "get involved"??? As a fellow "trouble maker" (shop steward) i would respectfully suggest that you (as the local pres) lead from the top and change this will all be better off

    good luck


    • #3
      keep in mind, i am private sector, the public sector rules may or may not allow my suggestions


      • #4
        Noiddodge is correct

        I dunno about NYS, so your mileage may vary.

        But yes, it seems it may violate Weingarten rights. Weingarten, understand, is a construct of the federal Labor Laws, as applied through the NLRB, but has been adopted by virtually every state in some form or another. It states, basically, that any union member called into an investigatory meeting which has the reasonable potential to result in discipline, requires that such member be given opp'ty to have a union rep present. If the member demands same, the mtg must stop until a rep is present (within reason, meaning not a week's delay). whether this is actually weingarten violation is uncertain where it may have been your discipline, not theirs, but all the same I'd allege it.

        second, it does seem direct dealing. not just direct dealing over contract terms, but direct dealing in other forms of contract neg'ts. that is, adjusting a grievance is a form of contract neg'ts (not just acutal CBA negt's). so here, it may be direct dealing. Although, again, it may not stick where you weren't disicpline yet and no grievance exists.

        still, there are others based on the federal NLRA. most state's labor laws mirror the fed NLRA, although NYS might differ where it is old and thus might predate the NLRA. anyway, you have (under fed NLRA parlence) an 8(a)(1) charge for interrogation of them and surveillence of you. Surveillance doesn't just mean that they may have violated NYS law where I don't think you can tape or otherwise record a telephone conversation in NYS without *both* parties' consent, but under the NLRA surveillence could otherwise be legal say, under wiretap laws, but still illegal to monitor union conversations. next, you might have an 8(a)(3), which is discrimination to encourage or discourage union membership. This is usally by threatening, suspending, or discharging a member or potential member to discourage unionization, but could be argued to interrogate in order to discoruage. finally, it may also violate 8(a)(5) which is refusal to bargain, as mentioned above, but also as "engaging in conduct designed to undermine the status of union as bargainin agent". this is a catch-all phrase which means they're doing something designed to meddle in and undermine the Union so it goes away, or is weak, or causes trouble, etc. 8(a)(5) could also be used to argue bargaining in bad faith where the dispute has lasted into two years.

        Again, i'm giving you the federal NLRA stuff. Most states have adopted these wholesale, as NJ uses the same code designations in its own state law (e.g.: 8(a)(1) through (5), although Jersey adds an 8a6 which doesn't exist in fed law. NY likely has state equivilent of the above. Poke around whichever NY State Agency is in charge of public employee stuff (in NJ, its called PERC, for Public Employee Relations commission, and works the same way as the NLRB). You'll likely file an UNfair Practice Charge on all or most of the above, the agency will investigate and ask you for witnesses, maybe have a conference, get the employer's version, and then either issue a complaint, settle, or ask that you withdraw due to lack of merit or suffer a dismissal.

        Oh, and I agree I wouldn't take the head Union's general denials any longer. You need help, something has happened, they should get involved. Force the issue with them, otherwise threaten a DFR (altho not sure if this is applicable here) or threaten to disaffiliate (but not decertify) and then affiliate with a better union.

        good luck,

        curt j.


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