Employees argue union slow to act on their behalf

Citing increasing dissatisfaction with their union, almost 100 employees at KCAL in Los Angeles have decided they no longer wish to be represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

The employees are “exploring various options to be represented by someone else,” Jeffrey Mailes, a news cameraman and tape editor, said Monday.

Seventy of the workers — engineers, maintenance staff, tape editors and camera operators — signed a petition earlier this month asking for the removal of IBEW Local 45, a step required by the National Labor Relations Board as part of the decertification process.

The petition was filed Aug. 5 but withdrawn a week later when it became clear that neither the National Assn. of Broadcast Employees & Technicians (NABET) nor the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) could step into IBEW’s place right away without violating the AFL-CIO’s Article 20, under which unions agree not to raid one another’s shops.

Under the rule, a year would have to pass before another union could take over representation of the KCAL employees.

Unhappy with union

Nevertheless, the workers are still looking for an alternative. In a letter to IBEW representatives Cecil Wynn and Tim Dixon and Local 45’s business manager, Lloyd Webster, three of the employees said they had been “dissatisfied for quite some time with IBEW.”

The letter referred to “the financial mismanagement of our money” and said the employees’ strike fund, “which we’ve paid into for years, is now nonexistent, and no one from IBEW has satisfactorily answered our questions as to where the money has gone.”

Signed by Mailes and his colleague Joel Fallon, the letter said former business representative James Earl Jackson — who was recently indicted on charges that he embezzled more than $63,000 in union funds (Daily Variety, Aug. 17) — “gave away several of our rights and benefits without the knowledge or con-sent of the membership.”

‘Passive manner’

“In addition,” the letter said, “we are unhappy with the passive manner in which IBEW has dealt with concerns and grievances our various members have filed against our employer.”

Mailes told Daily Variety that a number of grievances have been “sitting around” on the desk of KCAL’s VP and general counsel, Hugo Rossitter, and that the IBEW business rep had failed to seek their resolution.

Rossitter said Monday he could not comment on pending grievances or on internal matters between employees and their union.

Webster, who replaced Jackson as Local 45’s business rep, said the dispute with the employees “has been resolved” now that the workers have withdrawn their petition.

When told that the employees were still seeking other representation, Webster replied, “I can’t address that until I talk to them.”

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