Construction unionist Joe McDonald faces a challenge in the coming union election from a colleague who claims members are fed up with his "embarrassing antics" and unnecessary strikes.
Organiser Mark Hudston has nominated for assistant secretary, currently held by Mr McDonald and Graham Pallot, at the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union.
Mr Hudston said he would seek a more conciliatory approach with union-friendly employers in a bid to rebuild relationships and get more enterprise bargaining agreements.
In an extraordinary spray, Mr Hudston claimed Mr McDonald had destroyed relationships with some employers by unnecessarily escalating disputes into strikes. He claimed he had on occasion been forced to publicly support unlawful strikes, such as the 2010 motelling dispute at the $12 billion Woodside gas project, despite being personally opposed to it.
Mr McDonald and the union were fined in Federal Court for inciting the motelling strike, which cost contractors millions of dollars, and led to $9000 fines per worker. The fines are only enforceable if workers break industrial law within seven years.
Mr Hudston, regarded as a moderate, claimed members knew little about Mr Pallot and were fed up with Mr McDonald.
"I believe some of Joe's antics are embarrassing," he said. "When you dress up as a gangster, walk on to a job and act like you're Al Capone, members are not going to like it."
Mr McDonald was expelled from the Labor Party in 2007 by then leader Kevin Rudd for thuggish behaviour and has faced a string of charges for trespass and standover tactics.
Mr McDonald did not return calls yesterday. Election voting starts November 12.