Sunday, January 22, 2012

Leaders Uncomfortable with Speed of Free Speech

More than 2600 websites are blocked in the People's Republic of China under the country's policy of Internet censorship.

The dictators ban such sites as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, because the dictators know it is a powerful tool to spread information and it’s packed with democratic power.

With Blogs called microblogs, or weibo in China, the government launched its strongest official measure yet to quell electronic expressions of discontent that threatens to undermine its leaders' firm hold on power.

In the name of defending Chinese cyberspace against "harmful information," the Beijing city government require users who post microblogs to register their real names with the microblogging services—to be verified by government authorities—sweeping away the anonymity that has helped cloak dissidents online.

Even more vexing for officials has been the speed with which information can spread on microblogs.

And the same holds true with some UBC officials. Leaders are nervous and uncomfortable with the quantity and speed of information posted on this blog, they are accustomed to a monopoly of access to the membership and control of information.

Seeing a threat, their instinctive reaction is to attempt to silence by threating to file internal union charges claiming among other things, information posted is "confidential" information about UBC "business" and that by distributing ("or leaking") such "harmful information" to the general public, including employers and media, members have violated the oath (page 91) of membership, acted contrary to his/her responsibility to the UBC, and interfered with the union's performance of its legal or contractual obligations.

Nothing could be further from the Truth.

The Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA), also known as the Landrum-Griffin Act, is the federal law that provides rights for union members.

Sections 101(a)(1) and (2) of Title I guarantee equal voting rights and rights of free speech and assembly to "every member of a labor organization," and § 609 of Title VI makes it unlawful for a union "to fine, suspend, expel, or otherwise discipline any of its members for exercising any right to which he is entitled" under the Act.

Section 102 provides that any person whose rights under Title I have been infringed by any violation thereof may bring an action in federal district court for appropriate relief.

The Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 was the product of congressional concern with widespread abuses of power by union leadership. The relevant provisions of the Act had a history tracing back more than two decades in the evolution of the statutes relating to labor unions.

Tensions between union leaders and the rank-and-file members and allegations of union wrongdoing led to extended congressional inquiry. As originally introduced, the legislation focused on disclosure requirements and the regulation of union trusteeships and elections. However, various amendments were adopted, all aimed at enlarged protection for members of unions paralleling certain rights guaranteed by the Federal Constitution; not surprisingly, these amendments -- ultimately enacted as Title I of the Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 411-415 -- were introduced under the title of "Bill of Rights of Members of Labor Organizations."

The amendments placed emphasis on the rights of union members to freedom of expression without fear of sanctions by the union, which in many instances could mean loss of union membership and, in turn, loss of livelihood. Such protection was necessary to further the Act's primary objective of ensuring that unions would be democratically governed and responsive to the will of their memberships.

Example of Exercising The Right of Free Speech

UBC carpenter, Kevin Price, has long challenged the decision by council of leadership to charter a local meant to challenge the dominance of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1 at area construction projects.

Local 57 "is anti-union, it's anti-labor and it destroys (labor) unity," Price said in a telephone interview from his home in Dongola, Ill., population 780. The town is 100 miles southeast of St. Louis.

"We didn't have a say-so (on Local 57) and we didn't have a vote," Price added. "Then they stifled our voices. And they always succeeded. Until now. I called them on it."

Terry Nelson, the executive secretary-treasurer of the Carpenters Council, supports Price's right to speak his mind.

But he questions whether the Constitution guarantees Price the freedom to exercise that right at a workplace guided by union rules.

"He publicly displayed the sticker on one of our job sites and we took exception to it," Nelson said.

"Sometimes, your freedom stops at the end of my nose. That's why we call this America."

Price drew the line after a council business representative ordered him to remove the anti-Local 57 sticker from his truck, parked outside a Carbondale work site on Aug. 9.

When Price returned to the site with sticker intact the next day, the representative followed up on a threat to bring Price up on "union charges."

A month later, after a review of the incident, the council executive committee ordered Price to answer allegations of dissent before an internal "trial committee."

Price responded by suing the council, alleging the demand that he remove the sticker violated his right to free speech.

"I know what the Constitution is," said Price, a Navy veteran. "My dad was in World War II, my uncle in Korea, my brother in Vietnam and my son has served two tours in Iraq. The U.S. Constitution, to me, (supersedes) all the other constitutions."

U.S. District Judge Michael J. Reagan concurred.

In his decision, Reagan wrote that Price may "vehemently disagree(s) with certain policies advocated by his current union leaders — policies he believes are antithetical to the best interests (of the council.) But he is not sponsored by (or sponsoring) a rival union. He has not joined a rival union and is not encouraging others to do so. His expression of anti-Local 57 views occurred squarely within the context of his desire to reform (the) union's policies from within..."

Citing an infringement of Price's "right of free speech," Reagan issued a preliminary injunction preventing the council from convening the trial committee to hear the charges against Price on Oct. 19.


  1. "Sometimes, your freedom stops at the end of my nose. That's why we call this America."

    And it ends with a fist, that's why we Americans are who we are!

    We don't answer to a Queen, we don't bow or kneel to a King; and, we don't retort with a Sieg Heil to Dictators like McCarron, or his henchmen who are hell bent on destroying a mans wealth, dignity or prosperity when he comes to power.

  2. If It is True that the UBC International has formerly filed charges on the owner of the 157blogspot, the time has arrived for all "Rank and File Members" of the NYCDCC to LEAVE and REORGANIZE. The Rank and File Members of the NYCDCC want an independent, membership-run union.

    What is "Rank-and-File" unionism?

    The term "rank-and-file" is defined as "those who form the major portion of any group or organization, excluding the leaders and officers." In UE, we use the term "rank-and-file unionism" to describe how our union operates: it simply means it's the members who run our union ... in a democratic and collective manner. The members set the policies of the union and make all of the decisions of importance that affect their own local unions.

    Long-time UE officer and organizer Ernie DeMaio defined UE's unique style of rank-and-file unionism this way: the members elect the union's officers (local, district and national) who, in turn, are required to report on their stewardship of the union concerning its "policies, program, expenditures and contract negotiations which must have the prior consent of the members and their approval on all of the actions taken, and contracts negotiated, on their behalf. The essence of rank-and-file unionism is not democratic rhetoric, but democratic practice. The members run the union."

    The time has arrived for the "Rank and File Members" of the NYCDCC to reorganize for the benefit of ourselves.

    1. The UBC wasn't the ones who were going to file charges.


    As to the irreparable injury and inadequate remedy at law, the federal courts
    have consistently held that the potential chilling effect on free speech constitutes a clear threat of irreparable harm, for which there is no adequate legal remedy. Indeed, in
    Christian Legal Society v. Walker, 453 F.3d 853, 859 (7th Cir. 2006), the Seventh Circuit
    stressed: “The loss of First Amendment freedoms is presumed to constitute an irreparable
    injury for which money damages are not adequate, and injunctions protecting
    First Amendment freedoms are always in the public interest.” Id. (emphasis added), citing
    Joelner v. Village of Washington Park, 378 F.3d 613, 620 (7th Cir. 2004), and Elrod v. Burns,
    427 U.S. 347, 373 (1976)(“The loss of First Amendment freedoms, for even minimal
    periods of time, unquestionably constitutes irreparable injury”). Accord Brownsburg
    Area Patrons Affecting Change v. Baldwin, 137 F.3d 503, 507 (7th Cir. 1998).

  4. You can read the full MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ISSUING PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION here read the order.

  5. I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good. I don't know who you are but definitely you're going to a famous blogger if you aren't already ;) Cheers!
    10 Bearing 2x6 Open 2x6x2 Miniature Ball Bearings VXB Brand


I would ask that if you would like to leave a comment that you think of Local 157 Blogspot as your online meeting hall and that you wouldn’t say anything on this site that you wouldn’t, say at a union meeting. Constructive criticism is welcome, as we all benefit from such advice. Obnoxious comments are not welcome.