Labor Relations and Productivity in the Building Trades

By William Haber; Harold M. Levinson | Go to book overview

XI
Interunion Conflict: Jurisdictional Disputes

Few activities of the building trades unions have given rise to so much public criticism and to so many demands for legislative action as work stoppages resulting from jurisdictional disputes. Though these disputes are not, of course, confined to the building trades, the structural organization of the industry has made jurisdictional controversies much more frequent than in other sectors of the economy.

Broadly speaking, any labor dispute which arises from the conflicting claims of two or more unions may be classed as a jurisdictional dispute. In the construction industry, however, the type of dispute which has created the most serious and continuing problem involves a "situation in which two or more unions contend that their members are exclusively entitled to perform a given job or combination of jobs."1 Examples of this type of dispute are plentiful and need not be expanded upon here.2


CAUSES OF JURISDICTIONAL CONFLICTS3

As in the case of other labor problems in the industry, inter- union conflicts are rooted primarily in the industry's structure and operational methods. The principal cause of this is the existence in the industry of a multiplicity of craft unions, each asserting its right to a certain jurisdiction, and each having a long history of craft autonomy behind it. In an industry in

____________________
1
From "Jurisdictional Disputes Under the Taft-Hartley Act," Labor Law Journ., Apr., 1950, p. 499.
2
For a discussion of the various types of disputes and examples of each, see Philip Taft, "Jurisdictional Disputes," Ann. Amer. Acad. Pol. and Soc. Sci., Nov., 1946, pp. 37-42.
3
Much of the material in this section is based upon John T. Dunlop, "Jurisdictional Disputes," Proc. N. Y. Univ. Second Ann. Conf. on Labor ( New York, 1949).

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