Though it is often hidden, covered up, or excused, every now and then, union bosses give the public a glimpse of what they really think about unions when it comes to their own workers being unionized. In fact, it’s really not that uncommon for union bosses to engage in the same so-called “union-busting” activities they like to accuse companies (and Republicans) of doing.
Last year, for example, there was the incident of the longtime employee who tried to unionize the United Federation of Teachers, only to be fired. There was also the incident just a couple of month ago when the staff reps at UFCW Local 400 petitioned to unionize, only to be called “completely clueless, unappreciative, and incompetent” by a member of the UFCW’s management. Of course, there was incident of the UAW imposing cuts on its own union staff last year, as well as the Teamsters’ Jim Hoffa getting tough when the union staff at the Teamsters headquarters threatened to walk off the job in 2009.
Despite all of these examples (and more), it is somewhat unusual, though, for union bosses to get caught so blatantly seeming to act in concert to bust a union within their union as what the Amalgamated Transit Union bosses are accused of doing:
Union Leader Accused of Firing Employee for Organizing Union Staff
Unfair Labor Practice Complaint with National Labor Relations Board Charges Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) International President and AFL-CIO Executive Council Member Larry Hanley with Discriminatory Discharge of Union Employee for Organizing In-House Union for ATU Professional Staff, and Other Protected Activities, in Violation of the National Labor Relations Act
David Highnote, the former Assistant Director of Communications of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), filed an unfair labor practice (ULP) charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on April 12, 2011, alleging that the ATU first threatened and then fired him for organizing the professional staff at the AFL-CIO affiliated union. His charge also requested expedited review as a “discharge organizing campaign” matter. NLRB Case 5-CA-36561
The ATU and newly-elected International President Larry Hanley are currently under investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) for allegations of illegal and corrupt election practices during the bitterly contested election that brought Hanley into the Union’s leadership. Among the list of serious allegations were that Hanley and his supporters threatened and intimidated supporters of the candidates who opposed him and his slate of candidates. (DOL OLMS Case 540-08636-03)
Highnote said that he experienced similar intimidation. Only two weeks after Highnote signed his union card and started an organizing campaign, a senior advisor to Hanley allegedly threatened, “I only want to say this once. Larry (Hanley) is sensitive to all of the things going on in and outside of the office. If we find out that you are discussing workplace conditions with co-workers or anyone else, then one strike and you’re out.” Other senior Hanley advisors are also alleged to have harassed and attempted to deter him from organizing, but he continued to work to form an in-house union to represent the professional staff as a bargaining unit of the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild.
The ULP charge also alleges that the ATU’s reason for terminating him was pretextual. No “restructuring” took place, and two business days after his termination, the ATU hired someone into Highnote’s position.
Highnote stated, “People were scared of losing their jobs when Larry Hanley came in. Now that he has pushed out a number of staffers, they’re terrified.” [Emphasis added.]
With unions all around the country clamoring about “union busting,” perhaps they should aim those bullhorns into their own house first.
“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776