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socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
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Experience:  Retired (mostly)
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I am a member of CWA Local 9575 (Ventura County, California).

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I am a member of CWA Local 9575 (Ventura County, California). Currently the employees for our company located in the East are negotiating their union contract and those employees (45,000) have voted to go on strike. In the West, our own contract (for 5,000) will not be up for negotiation until 2013. In the last few days, the hourly employees at my locaqtion have received a lengthy letter from our Union advising how important it is that we all unite & support our 'brothers & sisters' by refusing to do management work. The last paragraph of the letter advises that 'during this bargaining time, the Local 9575 has adopted a policy that any member of Local 9575 who acts as a temporary supervisor shall be be subject to penalties and fines as decided by the Local in accordance with fair notice & due process.' My question is can our Union impose such 'penalties & fines' when our own Union contract is not up? Is our Local Union overstepping their grounds and abusing their power? Especially since the office in Victorville and Pomona have not sent a similiar letter to their members. One hourly employee (who is currently performing supervisory responsibilites) was approached by a Union Steward and the letter was hand delivered to her. This hourly employee asked for a copy of the documentation where it states they can serve fines and penalties, as of yet she has not received anything. Is our Union abusing their power and how can we protect ourselves from this kind of abuse?
Without reviewing the contracts and MOUs, it's difficult to be precise. However, generally, if you have a current local contract in force, and the union advises you to violate the terms and conditions of that contract, then that would be a breach against the adversely-affected employer. You simply cannot violate the existing local contract.

Re penalties/fines, if those fines are imposed against you for refusing to violate the existing local contract, then that, too, would be a breach of contract, only this time by the union against the workers.

Thus, there are two different potential breaches: by the local workers/union against the employer for failing to act in supervisory roles that were agreed to under the contract; and by the main union against the local workers/union for imposing fines/penalties for refusing to violate the local contract.

Hope this helps.

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