Mich. Judge Blasts Municipal Union Busting
October 24, 2013
A Michigan judge took an anti-union city manager to task last week, ruling that Lowell City Manager Mark Howe lied and unfairly targeted union activists – just to punish workers for joining the IBEW.
As reported by the WOOD-TV:
[Howe] withheld a $1 an hour raise from one union member and, without city council approval, gave $1,000 bonuses to every city employee except those who had joined the union, according to the ruling issued by Judge Doyle O'Connor last week.
Eight workers for the city of Lowell – located outside of Grand Rapids – joined Local 876 in 2011, and began bargaining for a first contract soon after.
Howe wasn’t pleased. He brought in a well-known anti-union law firm, said Local 876 Business Manager Hank Matulewicz. And according to Judge O’Connor’s written decision:
Howe’s antipathy to the unionization of the IBEW unit was transparent, both in his actions and in his demeanor… the purpose was to punish the employees for joining the union.
In addition to withholding bonuses, Howe threatened to outsource IBEW members’ jobs. The members were employed by the city’s power and public workers department. He also prevented employees from testifying before the city council.
“It really hurts our morale when we see things like that. We have good, honest workers,” Local 876 Steward Ralph Bracken told WOOD-TV.
The judge recommended to the Michigan Employment Relations Commission that Howe give a raise and the promised $1,000 bonus to union members.
Matulewicz said he looks forward to returning to the bargaining table.
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Photo used under a Creative Commons license from Flickr user BrianR