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From the November 2006 issue of The $100 Plus Club News #103

Hiring Hall Procedures in the Construction Trades

(model procedures available)

Most building trade unionists get work out of hiring halls. Union control over the hiring halls is important in protecting union standards in construction. But how to make sure that the halls are run fairly without discrimination or favoritism? The question is important, because many business agents use their control over job referrals to build and maintain their personal political machines and to retaliate against rivals and critics.

Because so many AUDers confront the hiring hall problem, we are calling to your attention a Chicago case in which a federal court Special Master imposed hiring hall requirements on a Pipefitters local and employers. The case (Daniels v. Pipefitters Assn. v. Local Union 597) came after a finding of racial discrimination and the court was attempting to address that problem. But although this case arose in the context of extreme, pervasive, long lasting racial discrimination, the court's remedy also benefits all unionists, especially those routinely excluded from jobs for merely questioning the system.

Included in the judicial remedy were the following requirements:

  • All employers must notify the union of all jobs available and use the hiring hall exclusively to fill those jobs.
  • Qualified persons were mandated to be referred in the order in which they signed the list.
  • An orderly system of recording all employment requests and how they were filled was to be maintained.
  • All union members and job applicants had an absolute right to review any and all referral records including Manpower requests, Business Agent Dispatch Forms and Carry Over logs.
  • All records must be available for inspection at reasonable times.
  • Copies of all records must be promptly provided upon the payment of a reasonable fee which could be waived upon a showing of financial need.

The court ordered the appointment of a Hiring Hall Monitor to implement these requirements but there is no reason why a union, with appropriate safeguards, could not run a similar system itself.

In Daniels, the court had the power to require employers to post all jobs and to fill them in strict accordance to the hiring list. But, as attentive UDR readers have learned and as construction workers know, most union agreements with construction contractors, give employers the unilateral, unlimited right to reject any applicant, even those sent out from the union hiring hall, without giving any reason for the rejection. This "right to reject" enables employers to blacklist good conscientious union activists who file grievances when they find employer violating the agreement. (The practice also makes it possible for unscrupulous union officials, in collusion with cooperating employers, to keep their critics from getting work.)

In one union, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, there has been an upsurge of protest by local leaders against the "right to reject" system. At the union's international convention in 2001, over the opposition of the international administration, the delegates directed the top officer to get rid of the current "right to reject" contract clauses and replace them with a provisions that require good cause for any rejection. When nothing happened, the delegates to the 2006 convention reiterated their stand. So far, unfortunately, there is no public record of any effort by the international office to carry out the convention mandate.

NOTE: The Daniels case is a useful reference point for those attempting to establish fair hiring hall procedures. The judge's ruling in the original 1993 case (not available online) included a ten page list of mandated hiring hall procedures. You can get a copy of the procedures from AUD for $5 for shipping and handling. Send us a check or call 718-564-1114.

See also: Union Democracy in the Construction Trades

Other articles on the UA:
UA Local 375 hiring hall rule provides for member recourse
How the Ironworkers and Pipefitters rig trusteeships
Hiring hall procedures in the construction trades
The eternal quest for fair hiring in construction
Last year's scandal hangs over next Plumbers convention
Top Plumbers international officers expelled
UA's Maddaloni and Patchell ousted after disastrous pension investments in Florida hotel
Interview with UA reformer Frank Natalie
New voices at AUD construction trades conference
Court orders Plumbers and Fitters to remove anti-democratic rule
Pipefitters win points in battle for democracy.
Links to UA member sites.


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