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January 23, 2018
Updated On: Jan 10, 2018

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Wednesday, January 3, 2018

In the current Steward Update newsletter
Firing For Poor Work Nixed Due To Lack Of Training
The discharge of a worker for poor work was overturned by an arbitrator who noted that she had not been given sufficient training to perform the task on an older, particularly difficult machine. The arbitrator noted that the worker had been employed for six years at the plant in another position when she was assigned to the machine. The arbitrator restored the worker to her job, but with back pay that covered about half of the two-year period she had been off work. After a year, she had returned to the job due to a grievance settlement, but then left when informed she would receive no back pay. The arbitrator said she should have worked and grieved the settlement, thus negating any back pay award for the subsequent year.

Labor Quote
"Individual commitment to a group effort—that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work."
—Natl. Football League coach Vince Lombardi

Labor Cartoon
Jack Corbett

Steward Tip

The Steward as Psychologist
Stewards often report that the most challenging part of their job – and the most frustrating – is dealing with difficult workers. It’s also time-consuming, burning up valuable hours that stewards would rather use working on grievances or organizing around important workplace issues. Why deal with these people at all? Won’t ignoring their irritating behavior make it go away? Unfortunately not. Such people have a way of infecting those around them, even if others recognize them as difficult. At best, difficult people dampen morale; at worst, they get others to think and act as they do. It’s best to confront the problem directly. How can you, the steward, deal with difficult people and keep your sanity? Several principles are useful to keep in mind when handling difficult personalities. People are cooperative – unless they are hurting in some way. Reaching for the person underneath the hurt with welcoming and nonjudgmental words and tones can often defuse the situation. This also means treating the person with complete respect and avoiding putting him or her down. Notice what increases the hostility and defensiveness and what decreases it. Another point to keep in mind is you cannot effectively handle a difficult interaction if both people are being difficult. If your buttons have been pushed by this person, it is usually better to deal with that elsewhere (for example, talk with someone else, preferably someone outside your workplace, about what’s hard about dealing with that person). Lastly, many abrasive or uncooperative behaviors and attitudes are habits people have learned from the past to deal with their surroundings. They’re not necessarily well-thought-out strategies. There is a difference between the person and the patterns they are stuck in. Assisting them to work through these ineffective habits will not only be helpful for the person but will also unleash a much more effective union supporter.
—Excerpted from The Union Steward’s Complete Guide (2nd Edition, Updated)

Today in Labor History
January 03
The ship Thetis arrives in Hawaii with 175 Chinese field workers bound to serve for five years at $3 per month - 1852
Wobbly Tom Mooney tried in San Francisco for Preparedness Day bombing - 1917
In a familiar scene during the Great Depression, some 500 farmers, Black and White, their crops ruined by a long drought, march into downtown England, Ark., to demand food for their starving families, warning they would take it by force if necessary. Town fathers frantically contacted the Red Cross; each family went home with two weeks’ rations - 1931 
The Supreme Court rules against the closed shop, a labor-management agreement that only union members can be hired and must remain members to continue on the job - 1949
AFL-CIO American Institute for Free Labor Development employees Mike Hammer and Mark Pearlman are assassinated in El Salvador along with a Peasant Workers’ Union leader with whom they were working on a land reform program - 1981

January 04
Angered by increasing farm foreclosures, members of Iowa's Farmers Holiday Association threaten to lynch banking representatives and law officials who institute foreclosure proceedings for the duration of the Great Depression - 1933
What many believe to be the longest strike in modern history, by Danish barbers’ assistants, ends after 33 years - 1961
Eight thousand New York City social workers strike, demand better conditions for welfare recipients - 1965
United Paperworkers Int’l Union merges with Oil, Chemical & Atomic Workers Int’l Union to form Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical & Energy Workers Int’l Union, itself later to merge with the Steelworkers - 1999
January 05

The nation’s first labor convention of Black workers was held in Washington, D.C., with 214 delegates forming the Colored National Labor Union - 1869
Ford Motor Company raises wages from $2.40 for a 9-hour day to $5 for an 8-hour day in effort to keep the unions out - 1914
Construction of the Golden Gate Bridge begins. Ten of the 11 deaths on the job came when safety netting beneath the site—the first-ever use of such equipment—failed under the stress of a scaffold that had fallen. Nineteen other workers were saved by the net over the course of construction. They became members of the (informal) Halfway to Hell Club - 1933

January 06
The Toronto Trades and Labour Council endorses the principle of equal pay for equal work between men and women - 1882
Eight thousand workers strike at Youngstown Sheet & Tube. The following day the strikers’ wives and other family members join in the protest. Company guards use tear gas bombs and fire into the crowd; three strikers are killed, 25 wounded - 1916

—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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