What happens when workers who work for unions demand to have union representation for themselves?
In some cases, they get fired—as is, allegedly, the case of a 59-year old Pennsylvania woman who spent 18 years working for the state’s largest Teamsters union local.
For the past 18 years, Kimberly Leonard made her living working for an organization whose name is synonymous with organized labor: a Teamsters local.
On Jan. 2, Leonard was called into the executive office of Local 776 and was terminated. The reason, she said: She had organized and joined a union.
“This is almost union history,” Leonard said. “I’ve never seen a union try busting another union.”
When 59-year old Leonard, along with her cor-workers, joined the Federation of Agents and International Representatives (FAIR), she did so, according to PennLive.com, in order to have union representation.
Apparently, that did not sit well with Ed Thompson, himself a former union organizer who became president of the Teamsters local January 1.
Last weeek, Thompson called Leonard into a meeting with several members of the union’s executive board where, according to Leonard, “she felt threatened and asked for but was denied union representation at the meeting.”
“I’m incredibly upset,” she said Monday. “I’ve paid union dues for 18 years with no contract, no representation, no grievance procedure. Now that I have a union my employers are like, ‘we’re not going to honor your contract.’ I’m amazed. This is what these people do for a living is go out and protect the rights of workers…except their own. It’s unbelievable. I want my job back.”
Leonard has filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board. However, that may take some weeks, or even months, if the Teamsters fight the charges.
This is not the first time workers who work for unions have found themselves to be the brunt of anti-union sentiments from their union bosses for trying to unionize.
In 2013, for example Tennessee Teamsters Local 667 fought to keep its clerical employees from unionizing with the United Steelworkers.
Even more egregiously, when the union organizers employed by International Brotherhood of Teamsters out of Washington, DC tried to unionize a few years ago, after being charged with violating their employees’ rights to unionize, the union bosses in Washington were ordered by the National Labor Relations Board to post the notice below inside the union’s headquarters.
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