IATSE’s New York Local 52 Settles Complaint Filed With NLRB Over Rights Of Nonunion Workers

IATSE Studio Mechanics Local 52 in New York has entered into a settlement agreement with James Harker, a nonunion production worker, in which the union has agreed that it will not discriminate against nonunion workers seeking jobs in the film and TV industry.

The case stems from complaints filed by Harker with the National Labor Relations Board in which he alleged that Local 52, IATSE’s largest production local in New York, tried to prevent him from working for companies signed to the local’s contracts – charges that Local 52 denied.

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Under the terms of the settlement, which has been approved by NLRB Region 29 in New York, the union has agreed that it will not require nonmembers like Harker to obtain work through the union and that nonmembers do not need to obtain the union’s approval before applying for union-represented positions or accepting offers of employment.

Local 52 also has agreed that it “will not threaten union members with internal union discipline if they hire nonmembers without first obtaining approval from the union; will allow union member department heads to staff their crews with nonmembers without first obtaining approval from the union hall; will not interfere with employers and their agents hiring nonmembers without first obtaining approval from the union, and will not require employers to allow members to bump nonmembers off of productions because of the nonmembers’ lack of membership with the union.”

In his complaint, Harker also alleged that during a membership meeting on October 24, 2021, Local 52 President John Ford “threatened the membership with internal union discipline if they hire nonmembers without permission of the union.” Local 52 also denied that allegation in its answer to his complaint. Deadline reached out to Ford but has yet to receive a response.

Under the terms of the settlement, the NLRB ordered Local 52 to publish a notice of the terms of the settlement in its newsletter; that “a responsible official” of the local “will read the notice to members at the next regularly scheduled general membership meeting,” and that the local’s officials and business agents “will receive training on employee rights, hiring hall procedures, and the rights of nonmembers.”

The NLRB also ordered the local to text or email the notice to all production companies that have employed workers covered by any of the local’s collective bargaining agreements since January 1, 2021, and to text or email the notice to all members of the local who were members since January 1, 2021.” The notice must also be sent to all individuals who worked under the local’s contract as nonunion “permits,” “applicants,” and “over hires” since September 15, 2020, for whom the local has email addresses or phone numbers.

In his fight against the union, Harker received free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, a nonprofit, charitable organization that says it’s “mission is to eliminate coercive union power and compulsory unionism abuses through strategic litigation, public information, and education programs.”

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