Las Vegas Dissident Loses NLRB Case

Textile Processors, Serv. Trades, Healthcare, Prof’l & Tech. Employees Local 311 in Las Vegas did not violate the Nat’l Labor Relations Act by removing a dissident from membership status a week after she lost her job, thereby causing her to be ineligible to run for office, the Nat’l Labor Relations Bd. ruled Dec. 15.  Reversing the finding of an administrative law judge, the Board determined the local’s decisions were “strictly internal union matters” and, therefore not an unfair labor practice under Section 8(b) of the act.

Suzanne Pollack was a “long-time dissident” member of Local 311. After she was discharged from her job with Tiffany Cleaners, a unionized firm, in 1988, she took a job with a nonunion cleaner for a year. During this time, Pollack continued to pay her dues and ran unsuccessfully for president of the local.  Pollack subsequently wrote to the Dep’t of Labor challenging the election and filed other complaints with the local’s executive board regarding officers’ salaries. DOL and the union both rejected her charges.

By 1991, when Pollack was again working for a unionized company, Mission Linen, Local 311 was nearly bankrupt. The national union placed the local into trusteeship and appointed a special trustee to take over its affairs. The trustee changed many of the local’s existing procedures. Among them, the trusteeship implemented the practice of immediately offering withdrawal to any member who lost his job with a signatory employer.

During the next year, Pollack continued to complain to both the national president and DOL about local spending practices under the trusteeship. In 1992, the union president told Pollack the trusteeship would be ending in 1993, and Pollack indicated her interest in running for office. Later that month, however, she was removed from her steward’s position because she did not speak Spanish and subsequently terminated from her job at Mission Linen as well. In 1993, when Pollack attempted to pay her membership dues, the union refused to accept them on the grounds she was not working for a unionized company. She filed unfair labor practice charges against the union and the

The company reached an informal agreement settling Pollack’s charge, but an administrative law judge found the union violated Section 8(b)(1)(A) of the act by refusing to accept her dues. The judge concluded the local’s rationale for rejecting the dues tender was a sham in retaliation for her internal union activities and that, even if the rule was valid, the union had illegally retaliated against her for her dissident activities.  [BNA 1/5/01]