Are there competing unions?

Total ignorance here–I am wondering whether there are workers’ unions that compete with each other for members.

If there are, are all workers’ unions in competition with some other unions? Or are there workers’ unions which have a monopoly on union membership within a particular region or field?

Growing up in the tradeshow business, I used to see quite a bit of competion. Not for members, per se, but for juristictions. The business having matured you don’t see as much of it anymore. Back in the 1970s-1980’s in the Bay Area, for example, there were several unions involved in the TS business: upholsterers, displaymen, teamsters, electricians, stagehands, etc. Disagreements over who did what/when were very common. To a lesser extent disagreements would crop up in Chicago with decorators, carpenters, teamsters, riggers and electricians.

Historically, lots of competition.

Wikipedia: “Labor federation competition in the United States

Another article: “Competition Between Unions Will Be Good for Labor

In St. Louis there were enough jurisdictional disputes between carpenters and electricians that the Carpenters District Council actually started their own electrician’s union. The two don’t compete for members, but they certainly compete for work, and since both the Carpenters and the IBEW are considered “real” unions, other trades officially refuse to take sides.

The American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association are separate unions, but they cooperate in some areas and generally don’t try to compete for current members. They have, from time to time, competed to win representation for new groups, though.

Non-competing unions is somewhat specific to the USA as far as I can tell. Over here, unions are generalist and transversal. So, there won’t be an union of teachers, an union of steel industry workers, an union of bank clerks,… but rather a number of national unions each having part of the teachers, part of the steel workers and part of the bank clerks amongst its members and definitely competing for membership and votes.

That’s down to a single company. I mean that on the assembly line of a given factory, workers will belong to various unions or none at all. There isn’t any “union monopoly” at any level.

IT does happen sometimes. some times two union will be trying to organize the same work place and the same employees.

It has also happened where the members do not believe that their union is properly repersenting them. They contact another union asking if they are interested in reperesenting the employees. As the contract expires from the first union the employees can request a NLRB election. If enough employees sign cards the NLRB will hold an election to descide which union will represent the employees.

An a final condition that I know that happened I believe in the 70’s in the Bay Area. One brewery sold a plant to another company. In company 1 the engineers were repersented by the IUOE and the line mechanics we represented by the Teamsters. In company 2 both were repsented IUOE. When company 2 took over the plant they expected the line mechanics to switch unions. The teamsters objected.

This is going to vary a lot, by country (and state, in the U.S.), by industry, by particular trade. profession or skill set, even by individual company or factory. There is no general answer, but yes, there is often competition between unions, but also often co-operation and also monopolistic situations.

Happened here in Minneapolis. The city encouraged building a city-wide wireless Internet system, by purchasing a big share of the bandwidth as an ‘anchor tenant’, fronting some money, and giving them permission to mount equipment on city light poles, etc.

Part of the agreement with the city required that the work be done by union workers.
The Communication Workers of America (CWA) union (telephone & cable TV workers, mostly) expected to get a lot of jobs for their workers from this. But the company that won the bid hired from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW – mostly electricians) to do the work. I guess they charged a lower hourly rate.

The CWA union was very mad: both at the competing IBEW union, and at the city elected officials.

A place I used to work, the story of the local Canadian union being displaced by an international (i.e. American) union was legendary. During the meetings and votes over the “raid”, apparently baseball bats and such were useful. Mind you, this was IIRC in the 50’s
or 60’s.

For example: (Alberta Labour Board)

Or this:

Which says the AFL/CIO has a ban on “raiding” each others’ union members. Imagine the fun that happens when a union is trying to organize a company, and double it. that’s what the AFL wants to avoid.