Union Business Agent Responds To a Job Steward Claim
Union Business Agent Responds To a Job Steward Claim regarding being discharged.
In the construction industry on union project jobs ,a job steward is appointed by the local area trade union business agent( BA).The union steward job is to uphold union work rules and protect the rights of the worker on the jobsite. Management chooses a superintendent or a foreman to supervise the workers, protect the rights of an employer and complete the construction of the project. Trade union agreements between the employer and the union includes a provision that a union steward performing union related business activities can not be discharged.
This story is an example that a union steward is not exempt from dismissal if the employee doesn’t perform the work as directed by the employer’s supervisory staff.
The incident occurred during the construction of a project in Chicago, Illinois back in the 1960’s. The Holy Name Cathedral new school and Sisters Convent was build on the corner of Chicago ave and Wabash ave for the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago by general contractor Meyer and Gebhardt of Chicago .
The BA appointed a steward who previously was a masonry foreman for the general contractor ( GC).Although labor relations with the GC were not an issue with the job steward , an incident did occur that caused the company to discharge the union steward. The reason for *dismissal was his refusal to act as instructed by the contractor’s foreman.
The following day, early in the morning the *discharged worker was seen on the site, apparently waiting for the union business agent to arrive at the site. Upon the arrival of the BA and a discussion with the masonry foreman, a meeting was held in the GC’s field office.
Since other masons had not yet started to work, they attended the meeting of the discharged steward, BA and masonry foreman. The BA reminded the foreman that a union job steward was not to be let go until the completion of the masonry work as required in the employer/union agreement. The dismissed steward stood defiantly next to the BA with a smirk on his face smoking a large cigar in his mouth during the conversation. The other masons of the crew were previously told that the masonry foreman would be chastised by the BA for dismissing the job steward. Their attendance was not requested by the foreman although their attendance would later be important to other issues.
Responding to the above discussion, the foreman said ‘’ that all sounds good to me ‘’after hearing the positions taken by the discharged steward and the BA. The mason foreman began to explain the reasons for the action that he took that warranted the dismissal of the union steward. The actions were that the job steward did not perform the work as directed. The instruction was to install the stone façade first before proceeding with the back-up work because of the work area being temporally blocked to furnish materials. The steward decided to do the opposite work as instructed.
In addition on other occasions, the steward disregarded work procedures involving other tradesman in constructing masonry walls ( **e.g. hog in the wall ) and other actions slowing down the work performance. A few of the masonry crew members were complaining that they wanted a 8:00 am start time. It being winter time they were actually getting in at least 5 to 6 hrs.a day. In order to get a 9:00 am start, the labor crews needed to prepare the work areas to conduct winter operations. Many projects shut down when the weather is too cold because of the addition expenses of providing heat and non productive labor hours to do the work. The complaint was irresponsible since the men were averaging 25 to 32 hours a week when many jobsites were shut down because of the weather
After the foreman finished his explanation to the group, the BA thanked him for his side of the story. The BA turned to the dismissed job steward and said ‘’ I am sorry Barney that there is nothing I can do for you , you were dismissed not for doing union work but you were discharged for your personal actions’. Barney looked shocked, his cigar dropped in his month, said nothing and just left the office in a huff. The other masons were silent as to what had just occurred. Thinking back to the encounter and the results, it was time to clear the air because of the presence of the BA.
With the first issue being resolved, the foreman turned to the workers and said ‘’now that the BA is here, does anyone have any issues or complaints of the way the job is managed, if so let’s talk about them ?’’ Not anyone of them HAVING ANYTHING to say, left the office.
The mason foreman wasn’t aware if a new job steward was appointed by the BA since no one came forward to accept the assignment. One must wonder why?
In conclusion of the true story let’s just say that the Union Business Agent Responds and resolves a job steward claim of improper discharge in a manor fair to all parties concerned.
*dismissal and/or discharged A kinder use of the word ‘ being fired’
**e.g. hog in the wall when one corner of a wall has more courses than the other corner side of the same wall.
Hoping that the story was informative and enjoyed by one and all
Jon's website http://chicagoconsultant.com
Your author is a online marketing consultant of products offered on the internet. Jon’s website blog contains a variety of interesting subjects and articles that he has written