Labor Relations Laws

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Labor Relations Laws Module 4 – SLP

Disputes in a unionized workplace

Before you start this assignment, be sure that you have read the background readings for this module.

Read the following scenario:

Jocko and Thomas are both hourly employees working as forklift drivers in a large grocery chain’s central California warehouse. Their workplace is unionized. They work in the same warehouse section under Bert, the second shift supervisor.

Jocko has always found the job difficult, because the job was fast-paced, but repetitive; and even though the forklifts and machines do the heavy lifting and moving, there were situations in which a driver had to deal with slightly misplaced pallets or otherwise use ingenuity and “muscle” to keep things moving smoothly through the shift. Jocko was small in stature and obviously not as physically strong as his co-workers. Thomas made a point of never helping Jocko with these adjustments, even though he helped other drivers when such situations arose. Jocko was gay, and he thought Thomas resented having him there – Thomas never seemed to want to talk with Jocko on breaks, for example.

Jocko thought Thomas was being a bad colleague, especially on those days when Jocko could have really used Thomas’s help. Jocko mentioned to Bert, the supervisor, that he wished Thomas would help him once in a while. After all, he would be willing to help Thomas if he asked. Bert replied that he did not think that was going to happen.

It was not only Thomas who would never help Jocko. All of the other forklift drivers seemed to look the other way when Jocko found himself in a situation where there was “muscle” needed to keep things going.

Recently, the company implemented a new stacking protocol. Soon thereafter, Jocko was not meeting his production numbers on some days. He thought it was because he could not get any help from his colleagues when needed and his supervisor, Bert, did not seem to care.

Bert, his supervisor, did carefully record Jocko’s production numbers to highlight the shifts when he had underperformed. After a while, Jocko started skipping breaks and shortening his lunch break on some days so he could spend a little more time on the forklift and try to meet his production for the shift. No one seemed to care or notice.

As Jocko came to realize that he was going to get a bad performance review if the situation continued, he asked Bert if he could order his co-workers to help him when situations arose where he needed help. Bert said he could not give Jocko any special treatment.

Jocko grew more frustrated, especially by the lack of communication and what he considered to be the stubbornness of his co-workers in refusing to help him when he needed it. He reasoned that he had a family to feed, just as they did, and he had to do something about the unfair treatment he was receiving.

Jocko told Bert that he was going to tell the union that he wanted to file a grievance, because he thought the way he was being treated was not right.

Bert told Jocko that he’d never known a grievance to work out for the person who filed it, but Jocko should do what he thought he needed to do.

Jocko felt very upset about what he perceived as Bert’s indifference. He filed a formal grievance with the union about the situation.

Prepare a 2- to 3-page (not counting title and reference pages) paper that addresses the following:

  • What do you think will happen next? Why?
  • Discuss the important steps in a grievance process that might take place to resolve this issue if Jocko files a grievance.

Discuss a plan of action to resolve an employee conflict in a unionized workplace.

  • If you were the HR manager in this warehouse, what would you do to get to the root of the issue? Why?

Module 4 – Background

Labor Relations Laws Required Reading

Blumner, N. (1998). The role of cooperative structures in workplace transformation. Cornell University. Retrieved from http://www.mildredwarner.org/gov-restructuring/special-projects/cooperative.

Employee rights under the National Labor Relations Act. (n.d.). Retrieved from 

Gray, G., Myers, D., and Myers, P. (1999). Cooperative provisions in labor agreements: a new paradigm? Monthly Labor Review, 29-45. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/mlr/1999/01/art4full.pdf

Katz, H. C., Kochan, T. A., & Colvin, A. J. S. (2017). An introduction to U. S. collective bargaining and labor relations. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. See module backgrounds for specific pages to read. Retrieved from Skillsoft Books in the Trident Online Library.

Korshak, S. (2001). Good union relationships are best. Workforce. Retrieved from https://www.workforce.com/2001/01/26/good-union-relationships-are-best/

Sultan, M. (2012) Managing Grievance Process (slideshow). Retrieved from https://www.slideshare.net/mohdhanifah/grievance-procedure-13512386

U.S. Department of Labor. (2017). Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, As Amended. Retrieved from https://www.dol.gov/olms/regs/compliance/compllmrda.htm

WatchMojo.com (2014). Top 10 labor strikes in U.S. history. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xgd7_K5pCCU.

Optional Reading

Devinatz, V. G. (2013). The crisis of U.S. trade unionism and what needs to be done. Labor Law Journal, 64(1), 5-19. Retrieved from ProQuest in the Trident Online Library.

Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. (n.d.) What is grievance mediation? Retrieved from  https://www.fmcs.gov/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/146-Grievance.pdf

Ji, M. (2016). Revolution or Reform? Union-Worker Cooperative Relations in the United States and Korea. Labor Studies Journal, 41(4), 355–366. Available in the Trident Online Library.

National Labor Relations Board. (n.d.) 1947 Taft-Hartley substantive provisions. Retrieved from 

National Labor Relations Board. The NLRB Process. Retrieved from https://www.nlrb.gov/resources/nlrb-process

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