Employee Discipline

In an essay, answer the following questions about the concepts tied to this unit. Your response needs to be at least one page in lengthTo what extent is employment-at-will an issue in discipline cases in nonunion companies?To what extent is it an issue in unionized companies?Based on your research, what advice do you have for managers?What advice do you have for lawmakers (i.e., to what extent should employment-at-will be relevant for employee discipline)?Course Learning Outcomes for Unit VII Upon completion of this unit, students should be able to: 2. Examine the challenges for unions and employers in the modern workplace. 8. Compare and contrast union and employer concerns of job seniority and security. Reading Assignment Chapter 12: Employee Discipline Unit Lesson Welcome to Unit VII! In this unit, we will look at the end of the negotiation process and why people join unions. In the last unit, we considered the key issues from the Harper Container Company (HCC) and United Chemical and Plastics Workers (UCPW) collective bargaining agreement from both the management and the union perspective. If we were actually sitting down to negotiate, the process would be more dramatic given the heated emotions involved on both sides, and there would be several back and forth offers. These can frustrate some team members with the long hours working on offers and counter offers adding to the already tense environment. Things would get even more intense if either party initiated a strike or a lockout. Before we get to that stage, let’s look at the process as we have gone though it so far and how it may end: in a successful agreement, with an arbitrator who takes over, or in a strike or lockout. We started the process by determining our team members and their role and responsibility in the bargaining process. We then reviewed the previous contract to determine what might come up during this contract period, as well as what did and did not work in the previous contract. Next, we started our research as to industry standards, the latest settlements, and economic predictions so that we would be prepared to support our options and defend ourselves in counter offers. We have identified our issues and met several times. If we come to an agreement, then the teams did a great job and should be congratulated, but that is not the end. The union team has to take the final offer to the union membership for a vote. This will be the time the union representative needs to convince the union membership that this is the best deal possible. Hopefully the union team member has enough influence and charisma to convince the employees to accept the offer. If not, the union membership could reject the offer and vote to strike. The teams could get together and try to renegotiate, but it may be a moot point at this stage. If the union membership does not accept the final agreement, the result would be much work for many people. The union now implements their strike plan. Typically, the union gives management 48-hour notice of a strike. A typical strike plan requires the notification of all members not to come to work in order to support the strike. It also means the union has to organize the picket schedule. If you are part of the union, you are obligated to walk the picket line or perform other duties assigned by the union or you are not eligible for strike pay. During a strike, union members do not get paid their regular salary or benefits. Instead, the union gives them a small stipend. Some unions will also provide health benefits, but it depends on the union and its bylaws. The size and financial security of the union will determine the benefit coverage available to the striking members. While on strike for economic reasons, the union members may or may not be eligible for unemployment insurance. That would depend on the state where the company is located. UNIT VII STUDY GUIDE Employee Discipline MHR 6751, Labor Relations and Collective Bargaining 2 UNIT x STUDY GUIDE Title Some employees may opt to cross the picket line and go to work regardless of the strike. That is their choice, but, not surprisingly, it is very frowned upon by the striking members. Tensions can be high during the strike because, although the union membership wants an increase in wages, it is difficult to go without a paycheck when you are making less than $20 an hour. Bills and mortgages still have to be paid, and children have to be fed. It is not easy. Crossing a picket line requires that the employee resign from the union in writing and give that resignation to the union prior to crossing the picket line to go back to work. Otherwise, the union can fine the employee. During a strike, the union members are free to look for work elsewhere—providing they first meet their union obligations, such as the picket line. Employees can work other jobs as well and still earn their strike pay as long as they continue to walk the picket line or perform other duties as required by the union. Whether or not the employee resigns from the union, the union is still obligated to represent the employees as part of the bargaining unit. Management will also be very busy should the union go on strike. They will need to initiate their strike plan as to how the company will continue business as usual or at least do enough to keep the customers happy. Sometimes, this means management and non-union personnel will fill in for the striking employees. In our HCC case, there are very few management employees, so this is not possible. Another option is to hire replacement workers. Typically, the organization would have a contract set up to accommodate strikes. Then, at the very least, essential positions would be staffed so customer orders could be filled. Usually, management is forced to pay higher wages to acquire employees on a short notice and for an undetermined amount of time. Management does not want to pay more for less any longer than is absolutely necessary, so the union will often use the expense factor as a tactic to get management to reconsider their position. Take the example of a teacher. A teacher has signed up to be a substitute teacher for K-12 schools that go out on strike. Let’s say substitutes are getting $150 a day in addition to a hotel room and a meal allowance. In the interest of safety, they are bussed to the school each day and back to their hotel again in the evening. It is a great deal for the substitutes but a raw deal for the teachers because there is no way they are earning $150 a day. Management has the right to hire replacement workers brought on during a strike. The replacement workers can stay, and the striking employees have to wait until a vacancy opens up before they can come back to work. Employees must consider this risk when they decide to strike. Similar to the strike, there are actions taken by management should they decide to enforce a lockout— essentially locking the employees out of the workplace. Management would develop a plan to hire essential positions in order to meet customer demands. A lockout and a strike are very similar; it is just a matter of who initiates the work stoppage. Both a strike and a lockout are work stoppages—even if they are temporary. Today, we see strikes lasting for a much shorter period than the five or six months that they lasted a generation ago. A strike may last two to four weeks but rarely more than two months. If the two teams cannot come to an agreement and see no value in a strike or lockout, they can agree to bring in an arbitrator. An arbitrator is a neutral third party who will come into the collective bargaining process; review the facts, arguments, offers, and counter offers; and then make a decision as to the terms of the collective bargaining agreement. Management and the union collectively decide on an arbitrator by name, and both parties share in the cost. Arbitration is an alternative way to reach an agreement, but it takes away any influence or input from management or unions. The arbitrator makes the final decision, and it is binding. Both parties are bound to the arbitrator’s final decision for the duration in the contract, so neither of them want this route if at all possible. Here is a final scenario for you to consider. An employee has been with a company for 30 years. Five years before he retires, he is asked to join the management team. It is a significant promotion to move from the shop floor into management, but it is also very difficult. After three decades as a union member, he is now being asked to join the opposing team: management. Why? He has been a respected foreman, he worked well with all the employees, and he could do any job in the plant. Several of his union colleagues saw him as a traitor and would not speak to him at first. They could be assured though, that he would treat them fairly and work with them whenever he could. Nonetheless, it is an adjustment the union member turned member of management will struggle with for a long time. MHR 6751, Labor Relations and Collective Bargaining 3 UNIT x STUDY GUIDE Title In this unit, we reviewed the bargaining process and considered three potential end results. In the next unit, we will wrap up. Hopefully, by then, you will have a much better informed understanding of the collective bargaining agreement process than you did before the course began.

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