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September 19, 2017
Posted On: Aug 30, 2017

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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

In the current Steward Update newsletter
Steward Firing Reversed
Was a worker fired because he was an effective union leader as chief griever (that is, head steward)? And, was discharge too heavy a discipline for submitting an incorrect timecard? The arbitrator could find no evidence the company discharged the worker (who had been on the job for nine years) because of his union activity. But, he said, discharge was too severe and reduced the discipline to a 30-day suspension. The arbitrator said the worker arrived at the job at about 7:25 a.m. and failed to punch in. When called to the supervisor’s office, he recorded 6:58 a.m. on the record in full view of the supervisor—who had been aware of the worker’s tardiness and should have demanded a correct entry at the time. The company should have given the worker a suspension and made the incident part of its progressive discipline procedure, the arbitrator ruled.

Labor Quote
Honest Abe Speaks the Truth!
"Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration."
—Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States.

Labor Cartoon
Ken Benner

Steward Tip

Advising New Stewards
When a veteran steward is tempted to intervene with advice to a new steward, stop and think: What is the lowest level of intervention that might work in the situation:
Don’t do anything, especially if the result of the steward’s making a mistake will not be serious. The steward will learn from mistakes!
Just ask questions. Ask questions for your own clarification and to help the steward learn to think through a problem. “This is an interesting argument you’re making on this grievance form. Why did you choose the discrimination clause as the basis for the grievance? Is that the only language you think applies in this situation?”
Suggest choices. This is useful when the steward is facing a new situation and having trouble deciding what to do next: “You have several ways to go with this safety issue. You could confront the supervisor now, you could do some more investigating on your own, or you could get with the workers in that department and see if they have ideas about correcting the problem and would be willing to approach the supervisor with you. What do you think would work best?
—Excerpted from The Union Steward’s Complete Guide (2nd Edition, Updated)

Today in Labor History
August 30
Delegates from several East Coast cities meet in convention to form the National Trades' Union, uniting craft unions to oppose "the most unequal and unjustifiable distribution of the wealth of society in the hands of a few individuals."  The union faded after a few years - 1834
President Franklin Roosevelt's Wealth Tax Act increases taxes on rich citizens and big business, lowers taxes for small businesses - 1935
OSHA publishes scaffold safety standard, designed to protect 2.3 million construction workers and prevent 50 deaths and 4,500 injuries annually - 1996

August 31
John Reed forms the Communist Labor Party in Chicago. The Party’s motto: "Workers of the world, unite!" - 1919

Some 10,000 striking miners began a fight at Blair Mountain, W.Va., for recognition of their union, the United Mine Workers of America. Federal troops were sent in and miners were forced to withdraw five days later, after 16 deaths - 1921
The Trade Union Unity League is founded as an alternative to the American Federation of Labor, with the goal of organizing along industrial rather than craft lines. An arm of the American Communist Party, the League claimed 125,000 members before it dissolved in the late 1930s - 1929

"Solidarity" workers movement founded as a strike coordination committee at Lenin Shipyards, Gdansk, Poland. The strike launched a wave of unrest in the Soviet Union that ultimately led to its dissolution in 1991 - 1980
An estimated 325,000 unionists gathered in Washington, D.C., for a Solidarity Day march and rally for workplace fairness and healthcare reform - 1991
Detroit teachers begin what is to become a 9-day strike, winning smaller class sizes and raises of up to 4 percent - 1999
September 01
The Int’l Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers is founded at a meeting in Chicago, the product of two separate brotherhoods created over the previous 13 years - 1893

Congress declares Labor Day a national holiday - 1894
(From the Folks Who Brought You The Weekend is a sweeping, highly readable history of U.S. labor that will be welcomed by anyone interested in learning more about the struggle of American working people to better their lives through collective action.)
Some 30,000 women from 26 trades marched in Chicago's Labor Day parade - 1903
Walter Reuther is born. He went on to become a founder of the United Auto Workers and was president of the Congress of Industrial Organizations when it merged with the AFL in 1955 - 1907
A 3-week strike in Woonsocket, R.I., part of a national movement to obtain a minimum wage for textile workers, resulted in the deaths of three workers. Ultimately more than 420,000 workers struck nationally - 1934

In Hawaii, some 26,000 sugar workers represented by the Longshoremen’s union begin what is to become a successful 79-day strike that shuts down 33 of the 34 sugar plantations on the islands. The strike brought an end to Hawaii's paternalistic labor relations and impacted political and social institutions throughout the then-territory - 1946
Int'l Metal Engravers & Marking Device Workers Union changed its name to Int’l Association of Machinists - 1956
Some 20,000 Pennsylvania Railroad shop workers effectively halt operations in 13 states for 12 days. It was the first shutdown in the company's 114-year history - 1960
Boot and Shoe Workers' Union merged with Retail Clerks Int’l Union - 1977
The Journeymen Barbers, Hairdressers and Cosmetologists' Int'l Union of America merged with United Food & Commercial Workers - 1980

Glass Bottle Blowers' Association of the United States & Canada merged with Int'l Brotherhood of Pottery & Allied Workers to become Glass, Pottery, Plastics & Allied Workers - 1982
Aluminum, Brick & Clay Workers Int'l Union merged with United Glass & Ceramic Workers of North America to form Int'l Union of Aluminum, Brick & Glass Workers - 1982
Brotherhood of Railway, Airline & Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers, Express & Station Employees changed name to Transportation-Communications Union - 1987
Coopers Int’l Union of North America merged with Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics & Allied Workers Int'l Union - 1992
The federal minimum wage is increased to $5.15 per hour - 1997
The AFL-CIO creates Working America, a nonpartisan, non-profit organization designed to build alliances among non-union working people - 2003

—Compiled and edited by David Prosten.

Steward Update Weekly is brought to you by your union and Union Communication Services—Worker Institute at Cornell ILR, publisher of the Steward Update print edition newsletter, which provides union stewards with helpful information and advice. We hope the Steward Update Weekly will be a helpful tool in your important work as a steward for your union; if you have questions or suggestions on how the Weekly can be more useful, please email us at

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