Trade Union Activist Confused About Why People Don’t Want to Join the Union

A long-time trade union activist at Stultus University, Dr. Allyson Bailor has a lengthy history of standing up for the rights of bullying and harassment victims.

She has been a proud member of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) for 20 years and, during this timeframe, has personally filed 38 grievances against perpetrators, one of which even led to a misconduct charge resulting in a verbal warning.

“I get a huge amount of satisfaction helping members, especially female members, pursue justice against workplace bullies. We at the NTEU have zero tolerance when management repeatedly abuse our members. We won’t stand for it. It’s really about human rights, in the end. Everyone has a right to a safe workplace. So why isn’t everyone a member of our union?”

Dr. Bailor holds a PhD in Critical Race Studies and describes herself as a “passionate advocate for workers’ rights.”

Asked whether she also provides representation to non-NTEU members who’ve been sexually harassed or bullied at work, she responded emphatically: “Absolutely not! Why should I help out those free-riders? If you’re not already a member of the union, you’re on your own. You can burn for all I care!”

Although Dr. Bailor is enthusiastic about “pursuing justice” against senior management, she reveals that she cannot and will not represent a victim when the perpetrator is also a union member.

“You see, the majority of our casework is spent on defending members who’ve been accused of wrong-doing, whether sexual harassment or bullying. Our priority, you must understand, is to help those accused of misconduct to keep their jobs.”

“When an NTEU member accuses another NTEU member of wrong-doing, there’s a real conflict of interest there. So we always tell the victim just to let it go. I mean, can you imagine us using union resources to both pursue and defend charges of bullying or sexual harassment?”

According to Dr Bailor, it is an “unspoken, unwritten rule” among trade unionists that we do not prosecute our own members, no matter what the circumstances and no matter how strong the evidence against them.

“Basically, if you want us to file a grievance on your behalf, the perpetrator can’t also be a member of the NTEU. Sorry!”

The NTEU has been struggling in recent years to come to grips with plummeting membership. Dr. Jude Lawson, Chair of the National Organizing Committee, commented that he just can’t understand why people are leaving the union in droves year after year.

“It doesn’t make any sense to me. We offer excellent value for money. I mean, what’s there not to like about the NTEU’s ‘human rights-based’ approach to industrial relations? If you get accused of wrong-doing, we’ve got your back.”

Professor Andrew R. Timming

This article is published under a Creative Commons 4.0 License.

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