Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Big Brother is Watching You!

RyanMcGuire / Pixabay
Intermex, a money transfer service that has my vote for Orwellian wannabe, is being sued by a former employee for disabling a device that tracked her every move both on the job and off.
Employees of Intermex are required to download an app created by Xora and touted as the ultimate in employee tracking.  With this the boss can tell not only where you went for lunch but how fast you drove to get there and how long you took while you were there.
Myrna Arias of Bakersfield California, who, until she was fired, worked for Intermex.  She
decided to delete the app after her boss; John Stubits bragged that employees would be monitored off duty.  Stubits went on to tell Arias that she should tolerate it and reminded her that she was required to keep her phone’s power on 24/7.
Arias is suing Intermex for $500,000.00 in damages.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Preparation for Bargaining: A Local's Guide

Here is what you should do to get ready for bargaining.

Since the ratification of the last CBA:  Your last CBA needs to be read, examined and scrutinized for errors, problems, ambiguous language and sections you don’t like.  Keep a list of these items and add to it as issues become known throughout the life of the contract.

Six months before the CBA expires:  Time to form a bargaining committee.  You need a minimum of three people on the committee.  Avoid even numbered committees to avoid tie votes over issues.  Once you have the committee selected it is time for the committee to elect a chairperson who will preside over the meetings.

Start a wish list:  This is a list of the changes, additions and deletions desired by the committee. 

Make it realistic:  Having a wage proposal of $50.00 per hour in the hope of receiving a $.50 raise only causes frustration, anger and damages the working relationship between the parties at the table.  This makes a decent deal that much more difficult. 

Justify it and provide proof:  If you are proposing a wage increase of a $1.00 per hour find proof that supports that proposal.  Advertised pay rates of competitor companies as well as copies of their CBA’s (if unionized) will be helpful.  You can also include reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (  There you can search for wages based upon the occupation for the nation, regions, states and many metropolitan areas.  It is recommended that you only use an “apples to apples” comparison with your data.  Comparing an Armored Car Driver to a Parking Lot Attendant will not support your argument even if they both are basically Security Guards.

Be ready and prepared to fight:  At the table there is no law that requires the other side to agree with your proposals.  You can either convince them you are right, trade something you have that they want for something you want or you can be willing to take action against the employer to convince them to give you what you want, action in the form of an informational picket or a strike.  This is a subject that you as union leaders must not only discuss with your members but you must be comfortable that they will support that action should it come down to it.  Believe me, if you are bluffing and the members are not willing to act, the company will know.

Finally, when your list is complete, give it to your Negotiator as soon as possible.  There is nothing worse than receiving a wish list on the eve of a negotiation.  It makes for a very difficult time at the table and that’s not good for anyone.

In the end you are best served by careful preparation.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Understanding Weingarten

In 1975 the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that employees in unionized workplaces have the right to the presence of a union steward during any management questioning that the employee reasonably believes may result in discipline.
This all started in 1972 when Leura Collins was investigated by her employer, J. Weingarten, for possibly stealing from the lunch counter.  It was reported that Collins was seen taking a $2.98 item while only paying $1.00.  The investigator eventually cleared Collins when it was discovered that she was forced to use the larger box when the smaller boxes ran out.  The Local found out about the questioning and filed charges with the NLRB.
Here is an example of a Weingarten Card.

Your Right to Union Representation
“If this discussion could in any way lead to my being disciplined or terminated, or affect my personal working conditions, I respectfully request that my union representative, officer, or steward be present at this meeting.Without union representation, I choose not to answer questions.”
So what does all this mean in “plain” English?
Simple.  If your Boss, Supervisor or someone who represents the company with the authority to, starts asking you questions and you believe you could be punished because of the answers, you have the right to a union steward.
The key is your belief.  Since you are the only person who knows what the answer is your belief that you could get into trouble is all that is needed to justify your request.
So if you just got through backing into your bosses Mercedes in the company parking lot and your supervisor asks you if you know anything about it, you would be safe in asking for a steward.
So you have invoked your Weingarten Rights.  Now what?  The boss has some choices.  He can either:
1.   Find you a Steward or other Union Representative.
2.   End the interview all together, or
3.   Talk you into answering the questions without a steward.
What do you do if they ignore your request?
I recommend that you politely repeat your request until they get tired, get you a steward or let you go.
The moment the interview is over I highly recommend you write down everything that everyone said during that meeting and contact your Local Representative immediately.
What if I talk without a rep?  Unlike the Miranda warning we remember from all those TV crime dramas the Weingarten Rights will not protect you if you go ahead and talk.
So even though your employer has violated Federal law, they can still use what you say against you.
What if they ask me to write a statement?  Isn’t that sort of the same?
Yes it is.  If the employer is requesting information from you about anything that can affect your employment and you feel you may be punished, you can request a steward.
Now what can the steward do during this interview?  Can the steward do more than just be a witness?
Yes.  The steward has the right to:
1.   Be informed what the company is investigating.
2.   Have a private talk with the employee before questioning.
3.   Ask pertinent questions during the interview.
4.   Ask for clarification about questions.
5.   Give advice to the employee on how to answer a question
6.   Help by pointing out mitigating circumstances.
I usually tell an employee give the shortest answers possible.  Many times I have seen employees dig their own graves by saying far too much.
One such example was an employee who was accused of sleeping on the job.  He not only talked himself out of his job he provided a three page written statement explaining how it was impossible for him to be sleeping.
I had told him to simply answer “no, I was not sleeping” and leave it at that, but he wouldn’t listen.
Finally, don’t be fooling into talking when the boss tells you “don’t worry, you have nothing to worry about.  We just want to get to the bottom of this before everyone can go back to work”.

Yea.  Right.