John Clark knew right from his job interview with AlliedBarton Security Services that there were problems at the Dearborn Ford plant. “This one supervisor, she felt like the site was out of control,” the 53-year-old Detroit native explains. Clark says he was told that, as a former correctional officer, he was chosen to set an example of professionalism, so he accepted the job despite the issues.
When he arrived at work in August 2011, the superviser who had interviewed him was no longer there, but “I saw exactly what she was talking about the first week I was there,” Clark tells me. “The union rank and file just run amok, do whatever they want to do.”
Now, two years later, Clark and two other AlliedBarton employees have filed charges against their employer and United Protective Workers of America Local 1 with the National Labor Relations Board.
They allege that the union failed to represent workers’ interests and penalized workers who opposed its leadership.
Furthermore, when Michigan’s right-to-work law was passed last December, the union sought to hang onto its members, even against their will. In January 2013, just three months before the law was to go into effect, it negotiated a contract that forced employees to continue paying dues until June 2015. The 46 members of UPWA Local 1 are required to pay a $600 initiation fee, as well as $420 in dues each year.
Clark says the new agreement between AlliedBarton and UPWA was “the craziest contract I’d ever seen or heard of,” and he claims union leadership refused to tell the workers what was being discussed. He says the contract allowed AlliedBarton to drop workers’ health insurance and maintained a wage spread of more than $7 an hour between the so-called Level 1 workers and Level 2s, who have more authority and receive better pay. About one-third of the Level 2s are union leaders.