Saturday, May 25, 2013

Boston Local 3 Beats Back Unilaterally Implemented Discipline Policy at Arbitration After Two Year Battle

After a two year battle, Local 3 won a substantial victory at our RockTenn corrugated plant in Wakefield, MA when an arbitrator struck down the company’s another unilateral implementation of a discipline policy without bargaining with the Union.  Unfortunately for the members at RockTenn, which purchased the former Smurfit-Stone plant in 2011, this action continues a pattern of behavior at the facility.  
Boston Herald Photo-Christopher Evans
In 2008, the Union won a similar case when an arbitrator ruled that management did not have just cause to suspend a member for violation of a unilaterally implemented Lock-Out/Tag-Out Policy.  In December of 2010, the Union was able to restore holiday pay for employees who were denied their Christmas and Christmas Eve holiday pay because they were unable to make it to work the following Monday as a result of a severe snow storm. You can read local news coverage of that incident here.

The most recent case began in March of 2011 when management unilaterally implemented changes to their attendance policy to include an employee’s failure to swipe in or out to the disciplinary process of the policy.  Repeated demands from Local 3 to bargain over the implemented policy and to cease its enforcement were ignored by management.  As a result, in April of 2011, Local 3 filed Unfair Labor Practice charges at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).  In July of 2011, the NLRB deferred the charge to the grievance and arbitration procedure. Despite management’s tactics to delay and stall, following two grievance meetings and two days of hearing at arbitration, in May of 2013, the arbitrator ruled that RockTenn had, in fact, violated its duty to bargain.  In his award, the arbitrator wrote:
“The decision therefore orders the Employer to strike the unilaterally promulgated rule and to order the Employer to remove all in the employees’ record for the Attendance and Punctuality program and adjust each employees step in the attendance policy progression accordingly.”
The members at RockTenn demonstrated a great deal of patience and showed tremendous support for their Union throughout this lengthy process caused by the incessant delays from management.  It is our hope that these repeated losses will convince management to change the manner in which they treat their employees.

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