Bad unions and bad union leadership can do a lot of damage to employee morale, especially since some states—like New York—make it difficult to hold union officials accountable.
When Julius Scaccia’s employer said they were changing his job title and the job title of several other people in his department—essentially giving him a demotion—instead of fighting for them, his workplace union signed off on the change.
Then, when Julius sat down with his supervisor to talk about his concerns, the local union president showed up uninvited and proceeded to say negative things about Julius, including that he shouldn’t be promoted, damaging his career in the process.
“The union is supposedly there to protect you, but the union works with management,” said Julius, an applications developer for the State of New York. “What he should have said is, ‘Ok, if Jules is not ready for a promotion, tell him what he needs to do. Give him a path.’ Instead, he could have gotten me fired.”
Julius had gone to the meeting with a list of concerns he wanted to address, including how his workload was higher than his peers, while they were paid the same salary—something he says the union acknowledged, but refused to do anything about. Instead of working on addressing these problems, he found himself having to play defense with both his supervisor and the union representative.
After this frustrating experience, Julius filed a complaint against the union president with the state’s Public Employee Relations Board, which is supposed to help protect public employees from bad union representation. In response to his complaint, officials from the Civil Service Employee Association (CSEA) defended the local union president and claimed Julius was making things up.
The two sides ended up in front of administrative judge, who asked them to continue to talk to try to resolve the issue. Julius was told he could deal with the labor relations specialist instead of the union president, but the labor relations specialist just turned everything over to the president, Julius said.
Finally, he had had enough. In March 2021, Julius resigned from the union. Sadly, but unsurprisingly, the union initially rejected his resignation, saying he didn’t mail in the right form. In order to finally stop dues deductions, AFFT referred him to a pro bono attorney, who also helped him recover dues that were taken after he resigned.
“When I joined AFFT, I found an organization that will support me, unlike the union,” he said.