President's Corner

November 2017 Grievance Win Leads to Expanded Scholarship Program

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President’s Corner

In October, we opened the Local 150 Food Bank Scholarship program for the 2018 school year. This program started in 2013 when the Executive Board decided that all grievance awards would go into the Scholarship Fund, and it has grown nicely, currently holding more than $2 million. The program has grown over the years as well, currently offering a total of 16 scholarships to Local 150 members and their children. You can find more information on the Local 150 Food Bank Scholarship at foodbank150.org.

I wanted to inform you of a large grievance that we recently won against Judlau Construction that will result in more than $270,000 going into the Scholarship Fund. As many of you know, Judlau is headquartered in New York, but began coming into our jurisdiction to bid on some of the larger projects being let through the Illinois Tollway’s $15 billion capital plan. We have generally had a positive working relationship with Judlau since it began working here, and because it was are not signatory with the Teamsters in our jurisdiction, it had assigned to us operation of the articulating end-dumps on its projects.

In February, Judlau was preparing its bid for Phase 1 of the Central De-Icing Pad at O’Hare International Airport, which was later valued at $45 million. Judlau executives were preparing a bid that included credits earned for exceeding stringent quotas set for female, minority and neighborhood workers on the project. Around this time, two of our business representatives met with Judlau executives to let them know that these quotas are extremely difficult to meet, let alone exceed, facts which they should consider as they prepared the bid.

At that meeting, Judlau verbally agreed to assign articulating end-dumps to Local 150 members. Aside from its verbal commitment, we fully expected to have this work because Judlau is signatory with Local 150 and does not have a local contract with the Teamsters.

In April, Judlau was awarded the project, but we quickly began to hear rumors that our members would not be manning the off-road end-dumps. After a quick investigation, we learned that Judlau had subcontracted the hauling work to Truck King, which is not signatory to Local 150. The Subcontracting Clause in our contracts prohibits union contractors from subbing our work out to non-signatory contractors, so this was a blatant violation of the contract. A grievance was filed over this, as well as Truck King’s failure to hire a craft foreman, which all units of more than 15 operators are required to have under our Heavy Highway Agreement. 

Judlau failed to show up at the initial grievance hearing, advancing the matter directly to “full board.” There, the contractors agreed with us and found a violation of the contract. Truck King and recently indicted former Teamsters Joint Council President John Coli insisted that Local 786 Teamsters were being used. The key flaws in that argument are that Local 786 is not a construction local, is not signed to the City of Chicago’s project labor agreement (PLA) and is also not party to the Joint Conference Board, which handles jurisdictional issues between trades in Chicagoland.

Judlau filed an “impediment to job progress” charge against Local 150 at the Plan for the Settlement of Jurisdictional Disputes in the Construction Industry (“the Plan”), located in Washington, D.C. This body is responsible for sorting out jurisdictional issues between unions, like the one we were having with Teamsters Local 786 on this project. It did not take the arbitrator long to announce that the Plan would not hear the case. The decision reached at the Joint Grievance Committee therefore stands.

With that win, more than 40 Local 150 members were put to work on two shifts, including a good number of apprentices. Also, between the two grievance awards, more than $270,000 will be going to the Scholarship Fund, and as we continue to deposit large sums like this one, we intend to offer both larger and more numerous scholarships to the membership and their families.

While I am on the topic of legal wins, I am absolutely delighted to report that we got a big win in our lawsuit against Algonquin Township Road Commissioner Andrew Gasser, who illegally terminated three employees on his first day in office. After the firings, when we filed grievances, Gasser sent out a letter publicly repudiating the contract, calling it unauthorized, despite it being certified by the Illinois Labor Relations Board (ILRB). This is an Unfair Labor Practice, and we filed a charge over it.

Many members came out to the rallies that were held outside the Algonquin Township offices this summer, and I know that you had an interest in the outcome of these charges. I am very pleased to tell you that after Algonquin Township missed a routine filing deadline, the ILRB issued an order holding the township in default and making a determination in our favor. This came after its lawyer had billed the township more than $100,000 in legal fees (a number that is sure to grow significantly). When this process began, we were clear with the township that there was a path to settle this without undue cost to taxpayers, but the township’s decision was to go to war. As of September 28th, when the default order was issued, the township had lost.

The members who were illegally fired will be made whole for their losses, including back pay and benefits calculated with compound interest. This is a win for these workers, who we will also work to have reinstated if they so desire. Even in the wake of this decision, we expect that Algonquin’s attorney will fight tooth and nail to save some face, and if so, the financial burden placed on the taxpayers would increase accordingly.

Thank you to the staff at the union and at the Legal Department for all their hard work on this, and a special thanks to the hundreds of members who stood out in the rain at the township offices to show them how seriously we take attacks on our Brothers and Sisters. It was a lesson they didn’t have to spend so much money to learn, but they made their own beds on this case, and they will be accountable come the next election.

Finally, at a recent meeting of the Indiana-Illinois-Iowa Foundation for Fair Contracting (IIIFFC), Executive Director Marc Poulos reported that the IIIFFC staff has been responsible for turning approximately $25 million worth of non-union prevailing wage work over to union contractors within our jurisdiction this year alone. Typically, wages and benefits make up around 20 percent of a project cost, so the hard work of the FFC staff delivered $5 million in wages and benefits to Local 150 members. This organization is often totally behind the scenes, but its efforts make a difference in members’ lives, so I want to thank them for all that they do.

United We Stand, Divided We Fall.