M6A1: Case Analysis – Arbitration Decision

M6A1: Case Analysis – Arbitration Decision
Acme Manufacturing Company Case & United Machine Workers
Description of the Situation:

Production workers at Acme Manufacturing Company are represented by the United Machine Workers Union. There is a valid labor agreement between the parties. Relevant provisions from the contract are provided after the description of the case.

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On September 15 Manufacturing Supervisor Joe Jackson asked Kyla Martin, a machine operator, to remain at the end of the shift and work overtime. Martin said she could not work overtime that night because of a prior commitment and suggested that other, more junior, operators be asked. Jackson agreed, recognizing both Martin’s seniority and her reason as valid.

About 15 minutes later, Jackson brought a work sheet for September 15 with a refused overtime marked next to Martin’s name and asked her to initial the sheet next to her name. Thinking that the work sheet might go into her personnel record as a bad mark, Martin refused to initial it. She told Jackson that she had refused overtime assignments in the past and never had been asked to initial a work sheet before.

Jackson replied that employees frequently had been asked to initial overtime refusals and that he was simply trying to standardize the procedure. He said the work sheets were used only as a record to show that the company had offered overtime to employees in accordance with the contract.

Martin thought that she was being tricked and again refused to initial the work sheet. Jackson then gave Martin an order to initial the work sheet and told her she would be insubordinate and liable to disciplinary action if she refused.

Martin who had recently been elected a shop steward asked if she could call over another shop committee member. Jackson agreed. Martin asked the other shop steward to serve as a witness. She then repeated that she was officially declining the overtime for the record but would not initial the work sheet unless Jackson could show her some rule requiring employees to do so.

Jackson then explained to Martin and the other shop steward that he had given Martin a “clear and direct” order to initial the work sheet on penalty of disciplinary action for refusal to do so. Since Martin still would not initial the work sheet, Jackson said he had no choice but to suspend Martin for three days. In writing up his disciplinary action statement, Jackson stated, “Shop stewards especially should understand insubordination. The company cannot have Ms. Martin setting this kind of example to the other workers.

Martin grieved the suspension and the parties proceeded to arbitration.

The union argues that the supervisor did not have grounds for suspending Martin for refusing to initial the overtime sheet since the procedure had not been required in the past. The company has not issued new procedures regarding overtime sheets so Martin was within her rights under the contract to decline the supervisor’s request to initial the sheet. Based on the company’s past practice that did not require employees to initial the sheet, the union requests that Martin be made whole (including back pay, etc.) for the three day suspension and that this disciplinary action be removed from her record.

The company argues that it has the right to make reasonable rules and enforce them. If Martin disagreed with the rule, she should have complied with her supervisor’s request and then grieved the rule. As a shop steward, she has a higher duty to ensure her actions do not violate the contract. The company requests that the arbitrator uphold its decision to suspend Martin.

The parties have agreed that the issue before the arbitrator is:
Issue for the Arbitrator:

Was the discharge of Shop Steward Kyla Martin permissible under the terms of the agreement? If not, what should the remedy be?

Relevant Contract Provisions and Regulations:

Article V: Employee Responsibilities:
The employees shall comply with the Shop Regulations attached hereto and made part of this Agreement. It is understood that the Company has a right to make reasonable rules and that the Union has a right to grieve the application of such rules if it believes they are being unjustly applied.
Article X: Management Rights:
The control of all matters concerning the operation and management of the plant and the operation of the Company’s business are the exclusive responsibility of the Company, subject to the provisions of this Agreement. The Company has the right to discharge, suspend, or otherwise discipline employees for cause.
Shop Regulation #9
The following are legitimate causes for disciplinary action that may result in suspension without pay or discharge: refusal to obey orders from a supervisor; refusal to accept instructions or constructive criticism when given by a supervisor…

For this assignment:

You will play the role of arbitrator and decide the case below. In writing an arbitration opinion, you should address the arguments of each party and why or why not you do not accept them. It is important to pay careful attention to explaining why you did not accept the arguments of the losing party without being too harsh in criticizing that party. It is also important to critique the arguments in a constructive manner. As in most arbitration cases, you must decide the issue that the parties have framed.

Your analysis should be about 3 pages in length.

Be sure to review the General Instructions for Case Analysis [PDF file size 34.0 KB] before you begin.

The evaluation criteria include:

Based on the facts and contract language in this case, have you clearly analyzed both parties’ positions and explained why you accepted or rejected their arguments?
Is your decision clearly communicated to the parties?
Is information from the textbook and other sources, if applicable, integrated into your analysis appropriately? You must provide complete citations for all references.
Case rubric

Compose your work in a .doc or .docx file type using a word processor (such as Microsoft Word, etc.) and save it frequently to your computer. For those assignments that are not written essays and require uploading images or PowerPoint slides, please follow uploading guidelines provided by your instructor.

Check your work and correct any spelling or grammatical errors. When you are ready to submit your work, click “Upload Submission.” Enter the submission title and then click on “Select a file to upload.” Browse your computer, and select your file. Click “Open” and verify the correct file name has appeared next to Submission File. Click on “Continue.” Confirm submission is correct and then click on “Accept Submission & Save.”
Turnitin®

This course has Turnitin® fully integrated into the course dropbox. This means that you should only submit your assignments to the dropbox below. Please do not submit your assignment directly to Turnitin.com.

Once submitted, your assignment will be evaluated by Turnitin® automatically. You will be able to view an Originality Report within minutes of your first submission that will show how much of your work has been identified as similar to other sources such as websites, textbooks, or other student papers. Use your Originality Report as a learning tool to identify areas of your assignment that you may not have cited appropriately. You may resubmit your assignment through this dropbox as many times as you need to check to see if you have made improvements, until the due date of the assignment. However, once you have made your first submission, you will need to wait 24 hours after each subsequent submission to receive a new Originality Report. Plan accordingly as you draft your assignment. Once the due date has passed, your assignment submission will be considered final.
Evaluation

Review the SBT Case Analysis Rubric located in the “Start Here” section of the course for more information on grading criteria.

 

Expert Answer

Case Analysis – Arbitration Decision

 

 

Introduction

In order to solve any form of a labor dispute or a dispute between management and employees, it is important to critically analyze the details of the dispute and look at the issues from the perspectives of both parties. The legal aspect of any employment contract needs to be carefully analyzed since it provides the basis for solving any disputes and any decision making whenever a misunderstanding occurs (Budd, 2009). The terms of any contract direct the relationship and interaction between the parties and are important in ensuring that disputes do not arise. The terms also assist in the resolving of disputes when they occur (Fossum, 2014). In this paper, a dispute between a labor union and the management of a company is analyzed to understand the causes of the dispute and to identify how best the dispute can be resolved to ensure that the normal operations and interactions between the two parties are resumed. The relevant legal provisions and the perspectives of both parties are discussed in order to come up with the best solution to the prevailing dispute.

Acme Manufacturing Company Case vs. United Machine Workers

The parties in this dispute are the management of Acme Manufacturing Company and the United Machine Workers Union. The dispute is as a result of contradicting views regarding a legal issue within the contract reached between the two parties. The members involved in the dispute are Mr. Joe Jackson, a supervisor at the company, and Kyla Martin, an employee who is a machine operator at the company. Martin and all the other workers at Acme are represented by the United Machine Workers union on the basis of a labor agreement between the company and the union. The agreement is responsible for laying out provisions that dictate the basis for grievances, the behavior of employees, grounds for punishment, and employer-employee relations. The dispute between the worker and the supervisor stems from a recent disciplinary action by the company’s management after the worker was accused by the supervisor of insubordination, for refusing an overtime request.

Martin had been asked by the supervisor to work overtime but has declined the request, giving her reasons why she could not work extra hours. The supervisor had accepted her decline as she had provided a valid reason for declining. However, the supervisor included a mention of her refusal to work overtime in her worksheet, which could tarnish her name. When asked to sign the worksheet, Martin refused to sign it. The supervisor then regarded her refusal as disobedience to an order by the company’s management, and the company decided to suspend her for three days as a form of punishment. Martin has grieved the action and arbitration is necessary to resolve the issue between the union and the management of the company.

Analysis of the Major Issues

An analysis of the issue shows that the supervisor did not prove to Martin that his order that she should initial or sign the worksheet was a standard procedure of the company. Martin had, therefore, declined to sign the worksheet thinking that it was not a requirement by the company. Martin has filed a complaint against the order given by Jackson since it was the reason for her punishment. Martin had refused to sign the worksheet indicating that she had refused to work overtime since she thought that there was no rule or standard procedure that required employees to sign a worksheet when they refused overtime. Previous cases of employees refusing to work overtime did not warrant signing any worksheet showing their refusal. The action to punish Martin for refusing to obey a management order is justified in accordance with Article X and the Shop Regulation #9 of the contract provisions. The management may suspend an employee on the basis of any action that is relevant to shop regulation #9, which lists the basis for any disciplinary action including refusal to obey management orders.

However, the union objects the decision by the management to punish Martin by suspending her for three days. They do this based on the provisions under Article V in the contract, which states that the union has the right to grieve any application of the established rules if they believe that the rules were applied in a way that is unjust. Martin bases her grievance on this article as she believes that she was unjustly punished by the management.

Discussion and Conclusion

As the arbitrator, it is important that all the relevant articles and rules in the contract are evaluated to identify the justified cause of action in this case. The legal rules in the contract state that workers are obligated to follow orders given by the management and that failure to obey orders will result in punishment. The contract also provides that an employee has the right to grieve any action by the management where they feel that a rule was applied in an unjust or unfair manner. Previous cases of refusing to work overtime did not require workers to sign a worksheet indicating their refusal, which set a precedent by which martin declined to sign the worksheet. The action by Martin was not a violation of any established rule in the union contract since the supervisor did not notify her that signing the worksheet was a requirement by the management. The punishment she was given is, therefore, unfair. In order to avoid escalation of the case where Martin may take action against the management for unjust punishment, I would recommend that the union and the management compromise and recall Martin to work. She should also be paid for the three days that she was on suspension and the negative comment in her worksheet should be removed.

References

Budd, J. (2009). Labor relations. McGraw-Hill Publishing.

Fossum, J. (2014). Labor relations. McGraw-Hill Higher Education.

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