Dissidents Testify to Lack of Union Democracy

On Apr. 9, the Dep’t of Justice filed suit in Kansas City against the Int’l Bhd. of Boilermakers on behalf of two union dissidents allegeding that IBB placed restrictions on their local that amounted to an illegal trusteeship in violation of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959.

On Apr. 15, the dissidents, Ernest “Skip” Patterson, president of the Nat’l Transient Lodge, and Gary W. Boring testified before Rep. John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) House subcommittee about why it took two years for the Dep’t of Labor to take any action on their complaint that rights of NTL members of IBB are being violated. Both called for Congress members’ rights under LMRDA to ensure that unions are being run democratically. Patterson testified that as the elected president of the NTD, he has virtually no authority. “We don’t elect our negotiating committee…We don’t elect our representatives. We don’t elect our stewards. We don’t ratify our contracts.” Patterson said “[DOL] works hand in hand with the internationals on a daily basis…with this kind of influence what kind of justice does the rank-and-file member receive?”

Boehner said he called the hearing to learn more about the case and find out why it has taken so long for the government to act. But Asst. Sec. for Employment Standards Bernard E. Anderson refused to answer any questions about the case, allegeding that his comments might hurt DOJ’s suit. But, Patterson said the suit was “just another stalling tactic,” claiming that DOL already has the authority to take corrective action under a decision in Donovan v. National Transient Division, 736 F.2d 618 (10th Cir. 1984). [BNA 4/16/99]