Plumber’s union ordered to grant Kelowna woman membership after discriminatory denial – Kelowna Capital News
A Kelowna woman won her battle against a plumbing and pipe fitting union that refused to join.
According to the BC Labor Relation Board (LRB), Alicia Ferri denied membership of the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Piping Industry Local 170 (UA Local 170) in March 2020.
UA Local 170 did not oppose the denial of Ferri membership, but said the decision did not violate the Labor Relation Code. Despite several inquiries on Ferri’s behalf as to why she was refused membership, the union ignored her and refused to give her a reason.
“The union decided to ignore Ferri in the hope that it would go away calmly,” read an LRB ruling in March 2021.
Ferri filed a complaint with the LRB in the fall of 2020, claiming the rejection was discriminatory.
She was previously a member of UA Local 170 from 2007 to 2015 when she worked as a plumber. She quit the trade and union in 2015, claiming she was “regularly discriminated and harassed” because of her gender.
Ferri continued to find employment outside of plumbing, but heard of a pipe fitting program from LNG Canada in September 2019 that offered women tuition-free education and the opportunity to work in an operation in Kitimat. She had to be a union member to learn the training and applied to return to her old union in a different profession.
In March 2020, Ferri found out the union had refused her membership and left her on the hook for the $ 1,200 exchange rate. She tried to contact various union members by phone and email but received no response.
The union did not respond to Ferri until after filing the complaint, citing the reason why it did not describe its membership as “frustration with the industry” and “poor work”. The union also claimed that Ferri had “disheveled a lot of feathers”.
The board found that the union “had no reasonable basis for its decision (to refuse Ferri membership) and acted in an arbitrary, unreasonable and therefore discriminatory manner”.
The LRB ordered UA Local 170 to grant Ferri membership and sponsor the tuition fees for their pipefitting course.
You can read the decision in full here.
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