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worthy of arbitration? New York

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  • worthy of arbitration? New York

    hello, this is my first post. i'll try to fit in...

    recently there was a question of protocall regarding seniority after atrition in our shop. a junior person was stepped over and a senior person placed into an undesireable shift because the junior person was in a "supervisor's assistant" position.
    95% of the shop objected to this and signed the grievance- it is unheard of to have the shop this unified over anything. ever.
    our contract does not specify anything about this practice.
    past practice has always been, for 40 years, that in an adjustment senior people have first right of acceptance or refusal and the junior most people will be forced to accept.
    we thought we had a pretty good case, and it progressed to the 3rd level of the grievance procedure.
    the international rep became involved at this point. our local president produced a vague, dog-eared copy of a copy of a page out of some collection, on no official letterhead of any kind, which touched on a similar but not specific issue which would allow the company to have it's way, but the circumstances were not at all what we were facing.
    the international rep folded without even going into the hearing with HR.
    we were stunned. this paves the way for the employer to protect their pets from layoff by merely creating a position for them.

    so, ultimately, who has the final say about pursuing a grievance all the way to arbitration? the union body, or the international?
    the international did us a great dis-service by doing this to us, to the point of the shop looking to disband the union.
    after, what are we paying for with our dues?

    thank you,

    joe.

  • #2
    I don't know what your role in all this is but the purpose of the union is to uphold the provisions of the CBA and negotiate terms to include in the CBA. If no terms were violated, it doesn't matter how unpopular the decision was, it isn't something an arbitrator can overturn.
    I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

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    • #3
      i'm just one of the affected parties. in the past i have served as an elected union official. our argument was based on past practice, which i understand to carry weight in an arbitration hearing when there is nothing specific mentioned in the CBA.
      we were provided by the union in an union steward training seminar a flow chart to be used to determine if a case could be made for a past practice. it was put on by a labor law professor from cornell university.
      in this case all of those criteria were definitely met.
      back to my original question, does the international have unilateral authority to pull the plug on a grievance?
      part of the curiculum of our seminar were the responsibilities of being a union rep, which included the fact that a rep can be held liable in civil court for failure to adress grievences with due diligence.
      our concern is that we feel we were sold down the river by our union, and a deal was made with the company behind closed doors. this notion is fueled by the fact that such things have happened in the past. we all smell a rat.

      thank you

      joe

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      • #4
        Your CBA should spell out what rights you have to pursue a grievance. There is no one size fits all answer. Past practice can prevail but it isn't a given. Seniority is not automatic and it is not unusual for the type of position to be taken into account as well.
        I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

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        • #5
          The union probably has great latitude as to the points it chooses to defend or not defend --your options to end run the intentional on issues you think are important at a local level so as to pursue same --sort of "depend" on just what is in your union rules and the local power structure---I suspect the odds are NOT in your favor to run with the ball if the international chooses to drop that specific ball. The international may well be the exclusive bargaining agent --and it may now well be a dead point.

          I have no doubt there sometimes may be a rat in the woodpile --but in a way its a bit of your rat at play.
          I have no doubt that "past practice" is an important point --worse, if management changes the practices w/o an effective challenge then "past practice " is sort of undone.

          I am not a fan of absolute seniority preference --but I see and understand your point. Just I think you have no practical leverage as to this point left.

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