The LMRDA provides very few rights related to the fair operation of hiring halls. The basis for the rights of hiring hall users is found in the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), particularly Section (b)(1)(A), which requires unions to abide by what is called the duty of fair representation. There are two kinds of hiring halls: exclusive and non-exclusive. Under an exclusive hiring hall, employers agree to obtain all, or a fixed percentage, of workers from the union. All others are non-exclusive, and workers can challenge discrimination against them but are not entitled to referral rules or information.
Your rights under an exclusive hiring hall system
1. Officials must notify workers about how the referral system operates; rules should be in writing. The union cannot change dispatch rules without a good reason and the union must inform hiring hall users of any change in rules.
2. Criteria used to rank workers on the out-of-work list must be fair, objective, and related to legitimate employer concerns, such as your level of training or experience, length of time with a certain employer, or where you live.
3. You do not have to be a union member to seek work through the union’s hiring hall.
Challenging Discrimination in Hiring
If you are not getting jobs under an exclusive hiring hall system, you are entitled to information about job referrals. You should request this information orally and then in writing, if necessary, using the model request letter (for sample letter click here). You can file an Unfair Labor Practice Charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), if:
1. the union runs an exclusive hiring hall and will not give you referral rules or information after you have requested it;
2. you can prove that the union is violating the referral rules, such as, refusing to let you sign the book or putting you on the wrong list or discriminating against you in referrals.
Complaints with the NLRB must be filed within six months of the violation; you do not need an attorney to file a complaint. (for more NLRB info. see AUDLinks)
Discrimination for race, gender, religion, etc. If you are being denied employment due to your race, age, gender, ethnicity, religion or disability, you may be able to file a complaint with the city or state human rights agency or the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Be aware that this may be a very time-consuming process and you may need an attorney. (For more EEOC info. see AUDLinks.)
Retaliation for Internal Union Activity You can sue your union in court under the LMRDA if you are being discriminated against in referrals because you are outspoken in your union. First, you should use any internal union grievance or appeal procedures available to you. Remember, though, that the best defense is a good offense: an organized rank and file that acts collectively stands a better chance of solving problems without having to use formal procedures and has a better chance of enforcing legal rights. For more information, or for help with a union democracy problem, contact AUD: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- What is union democracy?
- About the LMRDA and the Union Members' Bill of Rights
- Questions and Answers about Legal Rights and Union Democracy
- Women in non-traditional trades: working for change
- Information and Resources for ILA Longshore Workers
- Your Job, Your Rights: an introduction to grievances and union representation
- Sample letters for enforcing your democratic rights
- AUD handouts you can use to promote union democracy
- The Complete Text of the LMRDA
- Request help with a union democracy problem
- Mentoring Available for New Union Democracy Lawyers
AUD defends the rights of members in their unions because we believe that union democracy means a stronger and more ethical labor movement. If you find this website helpful, please contribute to AUD.