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IUOE, LOCAL 542—MORE THAN 30 YEARSOF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION ALLEGATIONS
U.S. Courts Order Supervision of Local 542 because of Racial Discrimination
12 black plaintiffs, on behalf of an entire class of minority workers, sued Local542 of the Operating Engineers for:
discriminatory membership practices;
discriminatory hiring hall practices;
discrimination in the hours of work given and the wages earned; and
JUNE 19, 1972:
Plaintiffs John Dent and Marion Eaddy, while at a Local 542 hiring hall, werephysically attacked by three white members of Local 542. This attack took place
in front of Local 542’sbusiness agent and approximately 15 members of the union
JUNE 20, 1972:
Plaintiffs Cleveland Allen, John Dent, and Marion Eaddy were beaten
outside of Local542’s hiring hall
by at least fifteen white members of Local 542.
JUNE 20, 1972 - JUNE 22, 1972:
An emergency hearing had to be held regarding the violence on June19
and the morning of June 20
AUGUST 4, 1972:
The Court found that white members of Local 542 had repeatedly attacked theplaintiffs, as retaliation for filing the lawsuit. Because of this, the Judge prohibited all members of Local542 from:1.
Threatening, intimidating, harassing, assaulting, injuring, or otherwise interfering in anymanner with the named and class plaintiffs’ federal statutory and Constitutional rights to befree from retaliation because of their instituting and processing the instant employmentdiscrimination lawsuit; and2.
Doing any and all other acts which in any manner interfere with named and class plaintiffs’federal statutory and Constitutional rights to institute and process the instant employmentdiscrimination lawsuit.Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, et. al. v. Local Union No. 542, International Union of OperatingEngineers, 347 F.Supp. 268, 302 (E.D. Pa. 1972). The Judge finished by writing that all FederalMarshalls would be available to enforce his order.
JANUARY 19, 1976:
The trial into Local 542’s racially discriminatory practices begins.
NOVEMBER 30, 1978:
Nearly three years later, the Judge ruled that Local 542 discriminated againstminorities. Specifically, the court found:“At the critical level of viable jobs and equal opportunities,
there were intentional and persistent efforts to exclude and discourage most of the minorities who, but for their race, would have beenconsidered for entry into the union and for the more lucrative jobs
.” Commonwealth of Pennsylvaniaand Raymond Williams, et. al. v. Local Union 542, International Union of Operating Engineers, 469F. Supp. 329, 337 (E.D. Pa 1978), (emphasis added),
648 F.2d 922 (3
Cir 1981).The Court also found that Local 542 had repeatedly misrepresented the number of minorities in the union.In 1968, an official with Local 542 estimated that there were approximately 650 minority members out of the total membership of 5000. By 1969, the union determined that there were only 400 minority membersout of a total membership of 6000. In a document filed with the federal Equal Employment OpportunityCommission, Local 542 finally admitted that it had a mere 259 minority members out of a totalmembership of 6128. As the Judge wrote:“It is not acceptable to describe the repeated gross inaccuracies as merely incorrect guesses. . . .While it is conceivable that in one instance the union could have inadvertently made a significant errorin overestimating the number of minorities in the union, it is incredible that errors of this magnitudecould have occurred consistently by any mere coincidence. . . . Only a finding of discriminatoryintent can explain this subterfuge.” 469 F.Supp. at 344, (emphasis added).