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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Apples and Orangutans

I have spent this evening trying desperately to understand the Union members that would sit in judgement if we go to arbitration under the IRC. There is only so much that you can find out about them and their Local Unions on the Internet. Only one of the four had locals with public web pages that gave me any insight. In search of secondary resources on the web, the picture of our potential judges doesn’t fill me with any confidence that we would be judged by a jury of our peers. None of their locals compare well to ours. They are either plumbers’ unions or combined locals that have split scales. Servicemen suffer under their “organizations”. At best, they suckle on a hind teat.

Our history includes a period when there was a Steamfitters Local Union 602 and a Local Union 602A. We were once a split Union with separate officers and separate pay scales. Local Union 602 A represented the servicemen. They were limited in their overtime pay to time and a half when the other half received double time. They were also paid at a lower pay scale.

Our nonsense ended in the 50’s at an International Convention when the Canadian Unions protested the seating of the delegation from Washington D.C. The Canadians objected to the fact that no representatives from the service side were present. When the gavel came down to settle their protest we were made whole. From that day forward there was only one Union in Washington, D.C., Steamfitters Local Union 602, which was charged with fully representing construction, service, and metal tradesmen. Thank God for the Canadians.

The fact that the practice of split Unions and split scales continues to exist in our industry is a problem that the UA must grapple with. If they had followed our lead and insisted that their locals developed their service industry as we have, our International would be a greater presence in the market.

We are unique in more than one way from all of the Local Unions whose experience and traditions could cloud their judgements on our contract. In most instances all of us would likely argue that there must be “apples and apples” compared. Hell, at this late date, some of us would accept “apples and oranges”. However, “Apples and Orangutans” is unacceptable. I will vote against any contract that contains this particular from of arbitration.

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