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June 25, 2017
Posted On: May 11, 2017

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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

In the current Steward Update newsletter
Protections Against Cold Are Part of Mandated Safety Protections
A company was told that safety and health clauses of the contract required that it supply an appropriate jacket and bib to a worker who was ordered to work outside in extreme cold. An arbitrator ruled that the contract required the company to consider “environmental conditions” in supplying proper protections, including outer clothing for workers working outside in extremely low temperatures.

Labor Quote
We’ve Earned It!
“Our struggle is the struggle of every working man and woman in America.  We built this country, we have fought and died in its wars, paid our taxes and built every road and building in it, from one coast to the other.  And all we've asked in return is a fair day's pay for a fair day's work.”
—Moe Lepore, Boston Metro Area APWU

Labor Cartoon
Paul Kales

Steward Tip
Inform, Don’t Instruct, When Advising Workers in Trouble
Inform the member of his or her rights, the contract language, and the possible consequences of his or her actions. Do not tell your member what to do: only he or she can decide that. Your job is to tell him or her what the rules (or contract language) say about his or her situation and the consequences of his or her actions. Good advice informs and explains, it doesn’t direct. Let’s look at the paragraph that covers drug and alcohol testing in Joe’s contract: “Consistent with the Company’s Drug Free Workplace Policy, a urine test to determine the presence of drugs and/or alcohol will be administered if reasonable suspicion exists to warrant said test. Reasonable suspicion is defined as any accident involving personal injury, any accident where property damage is judged to be in excess of Two Hundred Fifty Dollars ($250.00), or any situation where an employee, in the judgment of his or her immediate supervisor, displays erratic, unusual, or dangerous behavior. Failure of the employee to submit to the drug/alcohol urine test when required to do so by his or her supervisor may result in immediate suspension and termination.” So, how would you advise Joe? First, show him the contract language and read it aloud. Then you can discuss his options and possible consequences. The idea is to inform Joe of his options, help him understand the process, and let him decide. Meanwhile, keep good notes on the incident just in case you have to file a grievance. That’s what Joe pays his dues for. Not so you can tell him what to do every time he gets into a jam, but so that when he does, your good advice and representation can help him make up his own mind what to do.
—Excerpted from The Union Steward’s Complete Guide (2nd Edition, Updated)

Today in Labor History
May 10
Thanks to an army of thousands of Chinese and Irish immigrants, who laid 2,000 miles of track, the nation’s first transcontinental railway line was finished by the joining of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific lines at Promontory Point, Utah - 1869
U.S. & Canadian workers form Western Labor Union. It favors industrial organization and independent labor party politics - 1898
A federal bankruptcy judge permits United Airlines to legally abandon responsibility for pensions covering 120,000 employees - 2005
May 11

Nationwide railway strike begins at Pullman, Ill. Nearly 260,000 railroad workers ultimately joined the strike to protest wage cuts by the Pullman Palace Car Co. - 1894

Seventeen crewmen on the iron ore freighter Henry Steinbrenner die when the ship, carrying nearly 7,000 tons of ore, sinks during a violent storm on Lake Erie. Another 16 crewmen survived - 1953
May 12
Laundry & Dry Cleaning Int’l Union granted a charter by the AFL-CIO - 1958
Int’l Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots merges with Longshoremen’s Association - 1971
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raid the Agriprocessors, Inc. slaughterhouse and meat packing plant in Postville, Iowa, arresting nearly 400 immigrant workers. Some 300 are convicted on document fraud charges. The raid was the largest ever until that date.  Several employees and lower and mid-level managers were convicted on various charges, but not the owner—although he later was jailed for bank fraud and related crimes - 2008

(Mobilizing Against Inequality: Unions, Immigrant Workers, and the Crisis of Capitalism: Are immigrant workers themselves responsible for low wages and shoddy working conditions? Should unions expend valuable time and energy organizing undocumented workers? Unions in Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States have taken various approaches to confront the challenges of this significant segment of the workforce. As U.S. immigration policy is debated, readers will gain insight into how all workers benefit when wages and working conditions for immigrant workers are improved.)
—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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