COOKING THE BOOK

A MASSIVE FEDERAL INVESTIGATION UNCOVERS EVIDENCE OF UNION CORRUPTION AT THE YELLOW PAGES. WHILE COMPANY MANAGENT DOES NOTHING, EMPLOYEES AND CUSTOMERS PAY THE PRICE.

In this case, the NLRB is arguing that IBEW Local 1269 has effectively sold out its membership. Under what is technically called an 8(a)2 complaint--an allegation seldom pressed by the NLRB, because it is so hard to prove--the government is arguing that the IBEW local and U S West management have formed an unholy alliance.

By allowing union officials to manipulate their accounts to make more money, the government argues, the company has penalized the 50 or so other salespeople in the Phoenix office who are forced to play by the rules.

A by-product of that, the government argues, is that the customers of union officials receive preferential treatment in their advertising programs that other Yellow Pages advertisers do not enjoy.

The alliance, the government argues, leads to labor-law violations like the firings of Smith and Seagraves.

And union members say it also raises troubling questions about how well their union is representing them in bargaining talks. Many workers were unhappy with the contract negotiated on their behalf in 1992.

The local's contract is up again for negotiations next year, and there are already rumblings about the possibility of a strike. That's assuming, of course, that the IBEW survives at U S West Direct.

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