Union VS Management Employee Disciplinary Hearing
In this teaching tool you will learn how to properly and effectively defend the rights of the union employee and protect them from management over-zealousness, and/or malicious persecution in the work place.
Being a union steward or a union representative safeguarding the rights of the union, its collective agreements, and the employees that come under the union's umbrella, is not an easy task, but it can be and often is very rewarding, in non-monetary ways.
Over the years, this writer defended some 5,500 disciplinary hearings. 60% were immediate dismissal of all charges laid, and of the remaining 40% that ended up going to an arbitrator, only 1% were flat out losses, usually because the employee, lied.
Either the union was able to achieve full vindication, or at least partial vindication, the partial ones fall under the old adage, "If the judge didn't get laid the night before, you're screwed." The one thing you will never get is management apologizing though, even when it is obvious that not only did they screw up but they were wrong.
If management suspects or believes a union protected employee has crossed the line, in action, or in word, or if management doesn't happen to like a specific employee and wants to try and get rid of said employee, their one tool is a disciplinary hearing.
For the most part, management is usually not very thorough in such procedures, which is a bonus usually for the union representative.
[Must do steps to be taken:]
Even prior to any employee meeting with management for alleged disciplinary purposes as a union steward or as a union business representative the following steps should and must be followed to ensure both the protection of the union collective agreement, and the rights of the unionized employee. Management sometimes reacts impulsively to some employees for whatever the reason so it is ultimately important to establish one incontrovertible fact.
Is the allegation against the employee contrary to any section and/or clause of the union collective agreement that is in effect. If it is not, then the disciplinary meeting is worthless and only serves to demonstrate management's lack of knowledge with regards to the collective agreement, or to demonstrate management's desire to persecute the employee.
Establish who the employee is, what department is the employee with. Management will have this information ready for you.
Establish who the employee's immediate supervisor is and is the supervisor present in the work place and aware of management's allegations against the employee in question. If it is not the immediate supervisor bringing the allegations, you will want to know where the supervisor was at the time.
Establish who in management is bringing forward the allegation.
Establish whether the allegation is in violation of the collective agreement in force. If it is not covered under the present collective agreement, then you know that management is trying to railroad the employee. The allegation must be dismissed immediately.
Establish whether there are any witnesses to said allegation and whether the witness or witnesses have or will give an evidence statement as to what they observed. Any witness must give an evidence statement which must be made available to the union's representative.
Establish whether or not management has any sort of electronic evidence, IE. video surveilance tapes, audio surveilance, phone voice recordings, etc. to substantiate their allegation, and will it be made available for scrutiny. As a representative of the union you have a right to any and all surveilance of any type.
What form of dicipinary action is management seeking and more importantly does the punishment not only fit the allegation, but is it warranted as regards the specific employee and his/her personal company record?
Establish whether the employee has any previous disciplinary actions on his/her personal company record and are they current and related to the current allegation.
Establish that all previous disciplinary actions on the employee's record are within the established time frame for union/company policy for removal of same.
Establish that any written disciplinary record produced by management, for the allegation you are defending, is totally factual, legible and is produced on a fresh properly formatted form. ( this is extremely important for several reasons )
A Disciplinary Report Form: This document is a legal document that may or may not end up before a judicial court judge, or an adjudicator.
Secondly if a fresh properly formatted form is not used, you have the obligation and the right to take the document before a more senior manager, maybe even the boss himself, and request or demand that the allegation(charge) be immediately dismissed and dropped. Upper management has no option but to grant the request, it doesn't matter how severe the case might be.
[Let's look at a purely "hypothetical" scenario]
Prior to the start of shift, an employee speaks to their immediate supervisor, about their need to leave work 30 minutes prior to the end of shift. The supervisor and employee mutually agree that as long as the employee finishes most or all of their assigned duties for that day, it is okay for the employee to leave early.
During the employee's shift, the immediate supervisor is called away, out of the work place, but before leaving the supervisor fails to notify management of the agreement struck between supervisor and employee. When it is time for the employee to leave, they simply punch out and leave.
After the employee has left, the manager goes looking for the employee to assign a new duty for them but cannot locate the employee. The manager then checks the employee time record and sees that the employee has punched out early without speaking to the manager and has left for the day.
Without thinking, without checking with the shift supervisor, the manager jumps the gun and charges the employee. What do you think his alleged charge would be? The manager files a charge for "Job abandonment" and on the employee's next shift the employee is on the carpet for something that isn't his fault.
Fortunately, this employee was a very conscientious employee, and had no bad marks on his record, but still the over-enthusiastic manager, possibly looking to make a name for himself filed the charge.
The union representative and union steward had a 2 minute conversation with the employer, a two minute conversation with the employee, 30 seconds with the employee's immediate supervisor and the allegations and counselling was dismissed, and the manager reprimanded for jumping the gun.
If you alway follow step by step these must do steps, for each individual employee case, 9 times out of 10 you will be successful.
Tags: Union , Employee , Discipline , Hearing
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