Unions have rules. Union members who break those rules can be placed on trial by their union and, if found guilty, can be expelled or suspended from the union. They can also be fined, as Nathaniel Musser has learned the expensive way.
Musser, a former member of the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters, according to his lawyer, could not find work through his union. So, as union members sometimes do, Musser found work on his own--at a non-union company.
As working non-union is against many trade unions' rules, the Carpenters' union filed internal union charges against Musser and imposed a $300,900.00 fine against Musser.
Although Musser appealed and the fine was later reduced to $200,850.00, Musser is also fighting the reduced fine as well.
According to ChicagoUnionNews.com, Musser is alleging in his court documents that the union maintained a policy that precluded members from resigning from the union.
“If he would have known about a way to resign, he would have resigned before he worked for a non-union employer,” [Musser's lawyer Stanley] Niew said.
Joe Heilgeist, identified in court papers as a business representative and organizer of Local 250, declined to comment and the attorney representing the union did not return phone calls.
Frank Libby, president of the Regional Council, said he was unfamiliar with this particular case but said the situation was common.
“It makes sense,” Libby said. “He went to work with a non-union contractor while he held membership. You can’t do that. . . . He made a conscious decision apparently to say the hell with the union.” [Emphasis added.]
Note: If you are an out-of-work construction trade union member, before you start working non-union, check your union constitution and local union bylaws. As a union member (in most trade unions), you can be placed on trial for working non-union.
“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776