This is a six-part series of articles, one every day for the next week.
It’s the story of my yearlong experience as an employee of the National Captioning Institute (NCI), a live television caption provider. During that challenging year (which started in October of 2015), I participated in the attempts of some of my fellow NCI workers’ to bring in a union called the Communications Workers of America (CWA). This led to NCI dismissing me from my job for what CWA claimed was an unlawful reason, which then led to a court hearing in front of a federal judge where I was represented by a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) lawyer.
What was at stake?
A judgment in our favor meant that NCI had unlawfully fired me because of my union involvement and I’d get my job back plus a public apology plus any back pay I was owed.
A judgment against us meant it was okay that NCI fired me because I was indeed a egregiously disloyal worker who didn’t deserve to keep his job.
Only time (a whole lot of time) would tell.
Before this story begins, though, you should know that prior to this my feelings about unions were for the most part neutral. I’ve always understood how critically important unions have been in leading the ongoing quest for worker’s fair rights and giving the masses a voice and leverage against the powers that be.
But I also know that at times the unions have abused their power and gained a reputation for pushing through contracts that end up creating overpaid workers who won’t move a muscle for the team if it’s not in their union agreement.
Apart from the CWA, my only other union ties were with AFTRA (who eventually merged with SAG), a union that I was a dues paying member of as a result of my TV appearances in the 90s. AFTRA has always done a great job collecting and sending me my TV residuals over the years.
I don’t want to spoil the ending to this story, but let’s just say that since my involvement in this experience, I am no longer neutral about unions.
Up Next: Part 1 – Getting the Job’s Never Easy
Like a lot of stories involving a union, this one starts out with a desperate man who needed to find a job in a new city to help support his wife and children.