Our coronavirus coverage is free for the first 24 hours. Find the latest information at Please consider subscribing or donating.

  1. Archive

Complaint against union rejected

The regional director of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has dismissed part of a longshoreman's complaint that his union ignored seniority rules and denied him union unemployment benefits. Charles Pinkney, a longshoreman since the 1960s, had accused his union last month of a general wrong: violating its Guaranteed Annual Income Plan. The plan promised senior union members priority for ship jobs or unemployment benefits if work declined. Pinkney argued that his union habitually denied him both.

In a Jan. 15 letter to Pinkney, Tampa NLRB Director Francis E. Dowd said he lacked enough proof to conclude the union's handling of its guaranteed income plan violated federal law, as Pinkney had charged.

"Inasmuch as the evidence is insufficient," Dowd said, ".


. I am, therefore, refusing to issue a complaint."

Meanwhile, the board's staff ap-peared ready Monday to uphold another, more specific part of Pinkney's complaint: that union bosses cheated him out of work on a cruise ship after he spoke badly about the International Longshoremen's Association (ILA) to newspaper reporters and federal agents.

Local ILA President Perry C. Harvey Jr., a Tampa City Council member, has refused to respond to questions from the St. Petersburg Times.

Last October, a Times series explained how for years Harvey ignored seniority rights and let dozens of union members be deprived of work _ or the hundreds of thousands of dollars in guaranteed income benefits they could have claimed.

Pinkney questioned the labor board's partial ruling. "I think it's just being smothered out, really," he said. "I think I'm going to take it to a higher court."

Last month, amid an ongoing federal investigation into Harvey's union, Harvey announced he would begin honoring the seniority rights of union membersentitled to the ILA's Guaranteed Annual Income Plan _ for the first time. "That right there tells you he hasn't been going by the rules," Pinkney said.

Pinkney said he is happy about one thing. He said an NLRB investigator told him the labor board has decided to side against the union on one part of his recent complaint. Pinkney had alleged that despite his seniority, the union vice president kept him from claiming work as a cruise ship porter Jan. 6. Pinkney said union bosses were punishing him for talking to outsiders.

The longshoreman said he was told that the NLRB is prepared to file a formal complaint against Harvey's union over the matter unless the union agrees to a settlement.

NLRB officials were unavailable for comment Monday or to confirm Pinkney's statments.