Today in Labor History Aug. 14, 2003 The Northeast of the United States and Canada experienced a massive blackout, which affected 50 million people. Initially concerned that it could be a terrorist attack, it soon became clear that it was the failure of Ohio-based First Energy Corporation to maintain its portion of the electrical grid. In a statement following the costly blackout, the Utility Workers Union of America called on Ohio’s Public Utilities Commission to investigate the industry’s maintenance practices and urged the state legislature to revise its deregulation laws that led to lax standards and mass layoffs of line workers. ~ Voices of Labor
Your Teamsters collective bargaining agreement provides you with the right to fair treatment at work. Without your union contract, you would be employed “at will” which means that the employer could issue discipline or terminate your employment for any non-discriminatory reason, or for no reason.
The “just cause” provision in your contract protects you against unreasonable discipline. The basic elements of just cause have been reduced to seven tests. A "no" answer to one or more of the questions below means that just cause either was not satisfied or at least was seriously weakened.
1. Notice: "Did the Employer give to the employee forewarning or foreknowledge of the possible consequences of the employee's disciplinary conduct?"
2. Reasonable rule or order: "Was the Employer's rule or managerial order reasonably related to (a) the orderly, efficient, and safe operation of the Employer's business, and (b) the performance that the Employer might properly expect of the Employee?"
3. Investigation: "Did the Employer, before administering the discipline to an employee, make an effort to discover whether the employee did in fact violate or disobey a rule or order of management?"
4. Fair investigation: "Was the Employer's investigation conducted fairly and objectively?"
5. Proof: "At the investigation, did the 'judge' obtain substantial evidence or proof that the employee was guilty as charged?"
6. Equal treatment: "Has the Employer applied its rules, orders and penalties even-handedly and without discrimination to all employees?"
7. Penalty: "Was the degree of discipline administered by the Employer in a particular case reasonably related to (a) the seriousness of the employee's proven offense, and (b) the record of the employee in his service with the Employer?"