Plumbers union loses appeal on discriminatory membership denial of Kelowna woman – Kelowna Capital News
The story of a conflict between a woman from Kelowna and the plumbing union she wanted to be a part of continues.
According to the BC Labor Relations Board (LRB), the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry Local 170 (UA Local 170) and the UA Piping Industry College of BC jointly requested the LRB to reconsider its decision that the union violated the Labor Code by acting in a discriminatory manner when she refused Alicia Ferri’s membership application.
In March 2020, Ferri re-enlisted as a member of UA Local 170, having left five years ago due to harassment and discrimination at work.
When she was interviewed as part of her application, she was not given any indication that her application would not be approved. But on March 25, Ferri found out she hadn’t been hired.
She tried to contact the union, leaving voicemails and emails, but got no response.
Ferri then brought the denial of membership and how that denial affected her education at the UA Piping Industry College of BC, where she studied to be a pipe fitter, to the LRB to the LRB.
The board found the union discriminated against Ferri when it rejected her application and ordered UA Local 170 to pay her $1,200.
The union and the vocational school have requested that the LRB’s original decision in 2021 be reconsidered, saying that the board’s original decision did not take into account why the union was denying Ferri’s membership: the union only grants membership to skilled craftsmen and Ferri’s skills were “want”. The school also wanted a reconsideration, as she had not been informed enough to apply for evidence to be submitted to the hearing before being ordered to remedy the situation with Ferri.
But in the 2020 decision, neither Ferri nor the LRB asked anything from the school; the decision only ordered that UA Local grant 170 Ferri membership and pay her $1,200, which was the cost of her pipe fitter course.
“[Ferri]admittedly failed as a plumber and was admitted to the Union without any suggestion that that failure was related to gender discrimination/harassment,” the union told the board.
In its Aug. 17 decision, the LRB said it will not reconsider and will stick with the original decision, saying that it is the union’s reasoning to only grant membership to competent employees, without demonstrating how it assesses competency. does not accept. The LRB also said it was unconvinced by the union’s claim that it had rejected Ferri’s application in a non-arbitrary manner.
The application has since been rejected.