What do I do when I'm laid-off?
If you are laid-off from work for any reason and are a member in good standing, you are considered eligible for work through the job referral system of the local union and do not have to engage in customary work search procedures required by the State Unemployment Compensation Department as a condition for receiving Unemployment Compensation (UC) benefits.
When you sign up for UC, simply state your affiliation with your local union and that you are on the union's out-of-work referral list, in order to satisfy the job search provision of the Wisconsin UC law.
Of course, to be put on the out-of-work list, you must first notify your local union that you are out of work. To qualify as a member-in-good-standing, you must also be current in the payment of your dues.
How do I get on the out-of-work list?
Getting on the out-of-work list is easy. When you get laid-off, call the local union. Tell the local that you are out of work and want to be placed on the out-of-work list.
How does the referral system work?
The Local cannot discriminate on referrals. The Local must refer out members based on the time and date of the call, or notification. The referral list is essentially a first-on, first-off placement system.
There are of course exceptions to this "first-on, first-off" rule. Local Unions are required to maintain A, B, and C lists, to give greater weight to workers with more than three years of work experience.
Contractors are also allowed to make specific requests for individuals based on previous employment. In addition, contractors may request workers with specific work experience.
Locals track members' and applicants' skills, experience and work history. For that reason, it is good to state any relevant experience whenever you call or notify the local to be placed on the out of work list.
The Local union posts the out of work list for the membership. Typically, the list is posted at the Local Union where it is available for inspection.
Can a contractor or member refuse a referral?
Generally, employers have the right to accept or reject an applicant referred by the Union or to discharge for just cause an employee who has been accepted, but proves unsatisfactory, subject to the procedure contained in the basic contract.
Upon a registrant being referred for employment and actually employed on a job more than three days, such registrant's name shall be removed from the list until such time as his employment has been terminated at which time he shall be registered at the bottom of the appropriate list under which he is entitled to be registered.
If a registrant, upon being referred in regular order, refuses to accept the referral, such registrant's name shall be placed at the bottom of the appropriate list under which he is entitled to be registered.
What is a grievance?
Perhaps one the greatest advantages of working under a collective bargaining agreement is one that most workers will never have to use.
If you are treated unjustly by your employer, cheated out of wages or benefits, coerced into working in an unsafe manner, or performing work that otherwise violates the agreement, you do not have to fight your employer alone.
Officers and staff of the union are trained to respond to these and other problems that occur between workers and their employers.
In addition, unions retain legal council to further ensure the rights of each worker are fully protected under every agreement.
Even if you are not sure that a situation or circumstance qualifies as a grievance against your employer, your union representative is prepared to answer your questions and to follow-up with your employer to make sure the work you do conforms to every aspect of the agreement. Working under a collective bargaining agreement means you are never alone. If you have any questions regarding your contract please contact your local union representative.
How do contractors become "signatory"?
To be eligible to receive the wages and fringe benefits you must work for a contractor who is signed to a collective bargaining agreement. Typically, contractors become "signatory" or signed to an agreement in one of four ways:
Bottom-Up: This method refers to an organizing drive where a work force that is not presently represented decides that it wants to work union. They petition the National Labor Relations Board to bring their contractor to an election. When they win the election the contractor must negotiate in good faith with the work force to reach an agreement, or the contractor may sign an existing agreement that covers the appropriate type of work.
Top-Down: This describes a contractor who signs an agreement without being taken to an election or directly organized by the work force. There are many reasons why contractors sign agreements without any direct or coercive action taken by the work force. Growing contractors, wanting to expand the area in which they work, may want to take advantage of union hiring halls across the state to work jobs in larger territories. Others may need the training offered through union apprentice and training programs. While, others may be moving into new markets and need to rely on experienced workers referred to them by local unions.
Sub-Contracting Clause: Many agreements contain language that require signatory contractors to use only those sub-contractors who are signed to an agreement. This clause acts as additional leverage to get sub-contractors who are not signed to agreements, but who want the work, to become signatory.
Project Agreement: This type of agreement allows a contractor to sign an agreement that is only good for the life of the project.
How are agreements negotiated?
All agreements are negotiated between labor and employer representatives. Generally, labor is represented by a committee made up of representatives of the Local Union, the District Council, and/or the International Union, depending on the particular jurisdiction of the agreement, i.e.; local, state or national agreements.
Employers, too, may negotiate agreements independently - as individual contractors -- or as a group -- through their local or national associations.
In Wisconsin, signatory employers may be signed to one or more local, state or national agreement. Members of local unions affected by an agreement, vote on the agreement, and offer their recommendation to the District Council. All agreements must be voted on and approved by District Council delegates. This action makes the agreement legal and protects the integrity of all agreements statewide.
What is craft jurisdiction?
As is the case in all construction crafts, laborer work has a defined jurisdiction that is recognized by employers and assigned to the laborer.
Jurisdiction continues to be the lifeblood of the union. In order to properly maintain the full jurisdiction granted to the Laborers International Union by charter from the American Federation of Labor in 1903, all representatives of the union, as well as its members, must be eternally vigilant in protecting our craft jurisdiction.
Occasionally, other crafts infringe on the jurisdiction of the laborer. Once that practice is established and recognized in an area it is often difficult and costly to have the work returned to the laborer.
When jurisdiction is in dispute, the matter is typically decided by an Administrative Law Judge, based on supporting evidence that may range from contract language to past practice in an area.
Of course the best defense of jurisdiction is a good offense. This generally means having local business representatives who learn to anticipate the work tasks before the employer makes a work assignment to another union, and who can obtain and document first or original assignment of the work.
This also means having knowledgeable members in the field who recognize possible problems and make these problems known to their local union representatives.