If I work for a non-union construction company that my wife owns and I am a union carpenter, can I legally work in the office as a project manager?

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If I work for a non-union construction company that my wife owns and I am a union carpenter, can I legally work in the office as a project manager?

I received a letter from my union being brought up on charges saying I defrauded them by owning a non union company. I personally do not own the company my wife does. I was told at a trial that I could be fined $20,000 to $50,000 for defrauding the union. Can I be held responsible for working for my wife as a project manager if I didn’t know working in a office was a rule breaker. I was also told that if I pay for the bond ($10,000) and sign a labor agreement they would not press charges. Also, I have not payed does in at least 6 months.

Asked on July 31, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Speak with an attorney about your situation, and bring copies of all union agreements, rules, correspondence with the union, paperwork you've filled out, etc. The law does not itself make owning a non-union company illegal if you are in a union. However, any agreement you have entered into which bars that would be enforceable, so the first issue is, what restrictions are contained in any agreements, contracts, etc. to which you are a party. The second issue is, what have you said, or represented to the union, and what did they do based on that? If you ever represented to them that you did not have an ownership interst in a non-union company, and based on that, they gave you something of value (or even allowed you in the union, if they ordinarily would not in that case), then depending in the circumstaces, it is possible this would be considered fraud. Therefore, you need to review the situation, all documents, and all correspondence in detail with an attorney. Good luck.


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