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John, Employment Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
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Experience:  Exclusively practice labor and employment law.
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One of my friend's son (X) works as a stage hand in New York City.
He works at very "high class" places like Lincoln Center, NY Symphony, etc.
All of this work at these theaters is performed by stage hands who are
members of a very powerful labor union. The waiting list to get into this
union is probably 10 years.
Now the union approached X and told him he could stay on the job(s), but
he was going to be a "supervisor" or at least they would say he was one.
I think they MAY BE trying to help X because the collective bargaining
agreement has a union security clause and X couldn't work on the job
without being a member of the union, which he could not be for
many years. And of course he can't be a "real" supervisor because he
is just out of college and learning the business.
Assuming that the employer goes along with this, either implicitly or
explicitly, do you see any problems for X here? Thanks
Hi, thanks for submitting your question today. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I’m happy to assist you with your question today.

This is an odd situation and not something you usually hear of - a union attempting to essentially diminish its own membership. But it would have no real detriment to your son's friend.

I'll explain further. The union is the exclusive agent for all stage employees (whatever classes of workers) but it cannot represent managers of such employees. Thus, by being named a manager, the thought is that he could continue doing that work even though he's not in reality a manager, and not have to go on this waiting list. Now, the truly strange part of this is that whomever in the union is offering this must know that son's friend will not be a member of the union and not paying dues; thus the union is out one position in membership in dues - diminishing its membership. There is no recourse against the misclassified employee. The union usually in such a case either grieves misclassification (to arbitration) under the terms of its collective bargaining agreement or files the matter as an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board. But in any case, the remedy is to remove the misclassified employee and allow the position to be bid on by union members under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, which you state has a waiting list for the position. There would be no financial penalty or the like to your son's friend...although he would be out of a job in the event the union successfully challenged the misclassification.

I believe this answers your question. However, if you need clarification or have follow-up questions regarding this matter, I will be happy to continue our conversation – simply reply to this answer. If you are otherwise satisfied with my response, please leave a positive rating as it is the only way I am able to get credit for my answers. Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX wish you all the best with this matter.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you very much.


It sounds like what you described is what is happening here.


Perhaps the stage employees who are in the union like this kid

and want him to be around; probably also because he is a good

kid, wants to learn the business, and does whatever they ask. Recognizing that as a practical matter he can't join the union now,

they have come up with this "idea" to keep him around.


My only last thought is that at some point management has to be

"in" on this. What if a member of management asks the union who

is doing what and/or who is this kid? Will - can - the union tell them

he is a "supervisor" when they see him lugging furniture? Also, there

has to be a "real" supervisor here somewhere?? Or is it

a situation where management sort of just "let's it go" for political

or other reasons (such as not wanting to upset a powerful union)?


As for the kid, which is what is important here, I would think that the

less said the better. In fact, I would think that if management

questions him about this he should probably just refer them to

one of the union workers on the job.


Thanks again.








That's tough to say - it must be that management is complicit in the matter somehow because a union has literally no say in who management hires as a supervisor. I'm not in a position to know why management would agree to it - possibly it's a union run company or management has agreed to allow this in limited instances. I would agree, the less said about it the better for the kid, at least for now, as otherwise he's not going to have a job....and these days jobs are tough to come by.
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