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IUOE 542 Consent Decree

IUOE 542 Consent Decree

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Published by LaborUnionReport
One local unions history of discriminating against African Americans
One local unions history of discriminating against African Americans

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Published by: LaborUnionReport on Apr 10, 2011
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04/10/2011

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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
 
NOVEMBER, 1971:
12 black plaintiffs, on behalf of an entire class of minority workers, sued Local542 of the Operating Engineers for:
o
 
discriminatory membership practices;
o
 
discriminatory hiring hall practices;
o
 
discrimination in the hours of work given and the wages earned; and
o
 
unfair representation.
 
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
th
and the morning of June 20
th
.
 
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),
aff’d 
648 F.2d 922 (3
rd
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).
 
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AUGUST 8, 1979:
The Court enters a “CONSENT DECREE” against Local 542. The first portion of that document, called a PERMANENT INJUNCTION, orders that:
 
“Defendants shall not discriminate against any minority person because of his color or national origin,with respect to acquisition, retention of membership or affiliation in said local union, with respect toreferral and selection for employment, with respect to any training, retraining or upgrading programs,or with respect to any other terms and conditions of employment, union membership or affiliation.”The document goes on to order Local 542 to increase minority representation in the union and ensureEQUAL WORK AND PAY between minority and white members.The court decided it needed to oversee Local 542’s compliance with the order, at least through March 31,1984. A Special Master, attorney Frank Jenkins, was appointed to monitor Local 542’s performanceregarding these goals.
 
DECEMBER 15, 1982:
The court approves a monetary settlement reached between the plaintiffs and theunion.
Local 542 agrees to pay the plaintiffs $1.5 MILLION because of the discrimination.
 
MAY, 1985:
Special Master Frank Jenkins found that Local 542 was still discriminating againstminorities.
 
 
OCTOBER 10, 1985:
The Court, in agreeing with the Special Master, holds Local 542 in contempt of court for failing to take the actions required by the 1979 Consent Decree. Specifically, the Court foundthat:
 
“The union was given five years in which to prove to this court that it could operate the hiring hall in anon-discriminatory, fair and equitable manner. The court finds that the union has failed in this regardand to the contrary, has continued to use the hiring hall as a tool of discrimination, albeit at a reducedlevel, but discrimination nevertheless.” Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, et. al. v. Local 542,International Union of Operating Engineers, 619 F.Supp. 1273, 1277 (E.D Pa 1985),
aff’d 
 
807 F.2d330 (3
rd
Cir 1986).
 
As a result of the ongoing discrimination, the Court appointed a full-time Hiring Hall Monitor to overseethe day-to-day operations of the hiring hall. The Court also extended the Consent Decree through August31, 1987.
 
MAY 12, 1987:
The Judge established a Civil Rights Committee to monitor Local 542’s activities. TheJudge also ordered that the Special Master (Mark Halpern, attorney-at-law) provide a report on Local542’s activities by October 15, 1993.
 
APRIL 30, 1989:
Special Master Halpern, and the Court, ended the day-to-day monitoring of Local 542.According to Mr. Halprin, Local 542 had “earned the right to serve as its own watchdog.”
 
MAY 25, 1993:
Because of the numerous complaints received by the Court alleging discrimination byLocal 542 against minority union members, the Court ordered Special Master Halpern to again investigateLocal 542’s hiring/assignment practices.
 
 
APRIL 15, 1994: Local 542 is again placed under strict court supervision.
According to Mr.Halpern’s report, the “gains made by minorities prior to April 1989, when court supervision was lifted byBechtle, were ‘wiped out’ in the following four years.”
 
 
JULY 20, 1998: E
ven though the Civil Rights Committee had been around for over 10 years, Local 542continued to violate the rules regarding the election of four of the members. Even though only minoritieswere entitled to vote on the four elected members, Local 542 allowed white women to also vote. Local542 was ordered to pay the plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees -
$11,869.50 in total
.
 
 
AND THE ISSUES CONTINUE MORE THAN 30 YEARS LATER. February 16, 2000
, a lawsuitby five black members of Local 542 for discrimination was filed against Local 542 in the U.S. DistrictCourt for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. (Willie Lee Jackson, et al. v. Local Union 542,International Union of Operating Engineers, Civil Action No. 00-854)
 
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