Unions Don’t Have to Represent Members

Unions don’t always defend their members. They don’t always file grievances. They don’t always arbitrate grievances.

For example, the IAM union, Kentucky Lodge No. 681 recently did not arbitrate the termination of union member Dylan Anderson.

Cook Compression, Inc. terminated Anderson after co-workers expressed fear because he had distributed Nazi literature containing caricatures of Jewish people and offensive slurs.

Since union employers need a reason to terminate someone (as if Mr. Anderson’s actions weren’t enough), Cook Compression said he violated its code of business conduct and ethics.

Mr. Anderson and IAM grieved the termination. The final step of the grievance procedure is arbitration. IAM did not want to arbitrate the grievance on behalf of Mr. Anderson.

If neither the Company nor the Union wants to arbitrate, but the terminated employee / union member wants to arbitrate, what happens?

IAM filed a lawsuit in federal court to get the answer. And the answer is, since neither party wants to arbitrate, neither party has to arbitrate the grievance.

Mr. Anderson is not a party to the CBA. He relinquished the right to act on his own behalf when he joined the union. He is bound by the decisions of the union – and the union decided it did not want to arbitrate.

#MattAustinLaborLaw #LaborRelations #LaborLaw #UnionOrganizing


Matt Austin is a nationwide management labor lawyer. Labor laws govern virtually all private-sector employees regardless of union membership. Proactive management of labor relations is critical to maintaining flexibility and increasing profit.

Matt also runs Austin Legal’s HR Legal Compliance Program that, for a small monthly fee, ensures HR decisions are protected by the attorney-client privilege.

Matt’s experience is deeply rooted in helping manage many aspects of his clients’ businesses. To effectively manage labor relations, he must also manage budgets, forecasts, new growth areas, and projected market corrections. High emotional intelligence is also critical to negotiating union contracts and to properly advise HR Legal Compliance members through the nuances of the law, its application to their companies, and how it will be received by employees.

You can reach Matt via email at Matt@MattAustinLaborLaw.com.