Labor Union Civil War: Laborers' International Union of North America Sued by Arizona Chapter, Local 383

A local chapter of the Laborers' International Union of North America, Local 383, is suing its parent organization in a fight over territory.

LIUNA's general president, Terence M. O'Sullivan, based in Washington D.C., informed the Local 383 last month that it was giving Mohave County to a Nevada-based subsidiary, Local 872, according to the federal lawsuit filed yesterday in the U.S. District Court of Arizona.

The Local 383 folks won't stand for that kind of heavy-handed action, and they're asking the court for a hearing an injunction to stop LIUNA from any further action on the matter.

The Local 383 is represented in the lawsuit by the Valley's Raymond Montoya, (the manager of the Local 383, according to one Web site), Harvey Delgado, Charlie Umi, and Marcie Clark, as well as other members from around the state.


Their lawyers include former Arizona U.S. Attorney Jose de Jesus Rivera.

Local 383 has been part of LIUNA since its inception in 1927, and has always had the entire state of Arizona as its territory, the suit says. The taking of Mohave County was punishment for an internal union squabble, it seems:

LIUNA has charged Local 383 with, among other things, failing to police Mojave County, and LIUNA now seeks to remove Mojave County from Local 383 as disciplinary action in response to the alleged failure to police the territory.

Local 383's members are entitled to a full and fair hearing before disciplinary action is taken against them.

LIUNA scheduled a hearing only after its General President had preliminarily decided to take disciplinary action.

We're not sure what the Local 383 means by the word "police" here -- we're imagining something along the lines of Gangs of New York, but that's probably not right. We left a message with Montoya but haven't heard back.

The union's rules, according to the suit, restrict members from working outside of their local LIUNA chapter's territory, so the D.C. headquarter's punishment is clearly going to affect workers in Kingman and other Mohave County burgs. Those workers, who have been hit hard by the slowdown in construction jobs, are apparently supposed to commute to Nevada now.

(NOTE -- A comment by "SD Jeff" made us rethink our previous sentence. If 872 takes over Mohave County, Kingman workers could join 872, then work in Mohave County or Nevada -- but workers remaining loyal to 383 couldn't work in a union job in Kingman, nor could 383 members from other parts of Arizona work the jobs in Mohave County).   

With luck, the fraternal fight will be settled soon. It must be hard to focus on finding fair-paying, local work when you have to worry about getting screwed by some desk-jockey union boss back in D.C.

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