Today in Labor History: September 18
One week after the September 11, 2001, attacks, anthrax spores are mailed by an unknown party to several news media offices and two U.S. senators. Five people exposed to the spores died, including two workers at Washington, D.C.’s USPS Brentwood facility: Thomas Morris Jr. and Joseph Curseen – 2001
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Member Tip: Members’ Rights
The U.S. LMRDA (Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act) protects your exercise of internal union rights by making it illegal for a union to “fine, suspend, expel, or otherwise discipline any of its members for exercising any right to which he is entitled.” So a union can’t discipline a member for expressing unpopular viewpoints, for forming an opposition caucus within the union, or for campaigning for candidates who oppose incumbent union officers. In fact, cases have held that in the rough and tumble of union politics, unions cannot discipline members who make untrue statements about union officers. But keep in mind that there are limits, of course, to these rights you have within your union: the law will not, for example, protect you if you publicly call upon your co-workers to quit the union and join a rival union. If the union does have justification for initiating a disciplinary action against you, it must provide certain due process protections (such as written notice of the specific charges against you and a fair opportunity to respond to them) and it must follow the procedures that are in its own constitution and bylaws. The LMRDA is enforced by the Department of Labor and the courts.
—Adapted from The Union Member’s Complete Guide, by Michael Mauer