August 2012

Organizing in Action

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is a government agency which investigates and enforces alleged labor law infractions. The law provides workers the right to form, join or assist a union, and in doing so provides the workers and the union certain protections. Under the act, it is unlawful for a non-union company to discriminate against a union sympathizer or member. This applies whether the member is in the hiring process or engaged in concerted actions while employed by the non-union company. If a union member, working in conjunction with an organizing campaign, is refused a job because of the applicant's union status, that rejection could be viewed as a discriminatory act by the employer. The union could then file charges at the NLRB against the non-union company for failure to hire because of the applicant's being a member of a labor union.

The District Council of Southern Ohio and Vicinity recently used this approach of sending union members to find employment with non-signatory contractors. District council organizers had union members make application for employment with targeted non-union contractors. Jennings Bail, a member from Local 301 (Charleston, W.Va.), decided to take part in the program when approached by District Council Organizer Ronald Smith. Brother Bail applied for work at a job site in Beckley, W.Va. Although the company was hiring, district council organizers proved at an NLRB hearing that Bail was not hired due to his union affiliation. As a result of the NLRB findings Brother Bail received back pay for the employer's discriminating act.

Brother Bail stated, "When I took the obligation to help a brother ironworker in need, that also pertained to his local union and protecting their work. I'm willing to do whatever it takes to see our local union and International Association grow in jobs and membership." General Vice President George Kratzer said of Bail's efforts, "He knows that is how we can protect our future. I would encourage all members to step up and help our organizers in the field as our forefathers have done for us."

With support from the business managers and assisted by the International's Organizing Department, the District Council of Southern Ohio and Vicinity has established an aggressive and successful organizing program. Organizers work as a team developing strategies, giving workers their legal right to form, join or assist a union.