Hand-Picked Union Court Fines Employees Who Worked during OH Strike
A clerical worker who crossed the picket line during last year's strike at the Summit County, Ohio, Children Serv. Bd. (CSB) has been found guilty in a union trial and fined $27,496.65. Almondine Poole is one of 38 crossers who stood trial over the past two Saturdays. All the defendants have been found guilty and fines range from $3,000 to $39,000, based on salary and overtime earned during the five-month strike.
Labor experts say the fines probably are enforceable in civil court. "You have to abide by whatever your constitution says. We laugh at that, but the same thing can happen at the country club," said John Russo, coordinator of the labor studies program at Youngstown State University. "The same thing happens at churches and religious organizations. You can be brought up on charges." [Russo apparently did not give any examples of ex-church members having fines enforced against them in court.]
Officials of Local 4546 of the Communications Wrkrs. of America picked the jury of union members, the trial administrator and the prosecutor from among its members. Defendants could choose their representative, but only if the advocate was a union member in good standing. Of the 100-plus people who crossed the picket line to work, some were probationary workers and excused from striking, and others withdrew their memberships before the strike began. The union charged only those who were still members when they crossed, said Local Pres. Robin Schenault.
Social worker Dan Gear, who volunteered to be the court chairman – or judge, admitted that to an outsider, the process would appear to be stacked in favor of the union. "I think that the jury has been very fair and set aside their personal issue" Gear said. "This is internal union business being handled internally." [Akron Beacon-Journal, 8/30/04]