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June 25, 2017
Posted On: May 31, 2017

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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

In the current Steward Update newsletter
Worker’s Firing Over Doctor Certificate Overturned
A worker who was seriously injured by gunshots in an out-of-state incident was fired when he failed to produce a doctor’s certificate four months later that he was still unable to return to work. Despite numerous efforts, the worker and his union were unable to provide additional evidence within the deadline. It was after the firing that the out-of-state doctor finally provided necessary evidence. The arbitrator said the worker’s testimony and medical evidence showed the difficulty and his good faith in seeking to comply with the company’s rules. He ordered the worker reinstated with back pay from the date of his clearance to work.

Labor Quote
Everyone Benefits From Unions
“If you are making a decent salary in a non-union company, you owe that to the unions. One thing that corporations do not do is give out money out of the goodness of their hearts.”—Molly Ivins (1944-2007), American Newspaper Columnist

Labor Cartoon
Joseph Bore

Steward Tip
Advising Workers in Trouble with the Boss
Much of a steward’s representational work takes place in an informal setting -- not in full-blown grievance investigations or meetings but in situations that may, or may not, develop into something more serious. Frequently this involves working with members who may be facing the prospect of discipline, and who come to you asking what they should do. While you can give guidance and offer options, you want to be careful about telling a member exactly what to do in every situation.  Here’s an example.  Joe says his supervisor wants to talk to him: he smashed his forklift into a stack of parts, sending them flying into a traffic lane and forcing a halt to work on a production line. You hear Joe’s been acting strange all day -- angry and distant. He was a half-hour late and got written up for it and got belligerent while being written up. The supervisor is going to want him to take a drug and alcohol test. Joe asks you what he should do. Your response? You’ve got to keep in mind the four keys to giving good advice: stay calm, refer to the contract, record what happens, and provide information. But you don’t want to try to tell the member what to do: that’s up to him.
—Excerpted from The Union Steward’s Complete Guide (2nd Edition, Updated)

Today in Labor History
May 31
The Johnstown Flood.  More than 2,200 die when a dam holding back a private resort lake burst upstream of Johnstown, Pennsylvania.  The resort was owned by wealthy industrialists including Andrew Carnegie and Henry Clay Frick.  Neither they nor any other members of the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club were found guilty of fault, despite the fact the group had created the lake out of an abandoned reservoir – 1889

Some 25,000 white autoworkers walk off the job at a Detroit Packard Motor Car Co. plant, heavily involved in wartime production, when three black workers are promoted to work on a previously all-white assembly line.  The black workers were relocated and the whites returned - 1943

Rose Will Monroe, popularly known as Rosie the Riveter, dies in Clarksville, Ind.  During WWII she helped bring women into the labor force - 1997

June 01
The Ladies Federal Labor Union Number 2703, based in Illinois, was granted a charter from the American Federation of Labor. Women from a wide range of occupations were among the members, who ultimately were successful in coalescing women’s groups interested in suffrage, temperance, health, housing and child labor reform to win state legislation in these areas - 1888

Union Carpenters win a 25¢-per-day raise, bringing wages for a 9-hour day to $2.50 - 1898

Congress passes the Erdman Act, providing for voluntary mediation or arbitration of railroad disputes and prohibiting contracts that discriminate against union labor or release employers from legal liability for on-the-job injuries – 1898

Nearly 3,500 immigrant miners begin Clifton-Morenci, Ariz., copper strike - 1903

Some 12,500 longshoremen strike the Pacific coast, from San Diego to Bellingham, Wash. Demands included a closed shop and a wage increase to 55¢ an hour for handling general cargo - 1916

As many as 60,000 railroad shopmen strike to protest cuts in wages - 1922

Extinguishing the light of hope in the hearts and aspirations of workers around the world, the Mexican government abolishes siestas—a mid-afternoon nap and work break which lengthened the work day but got people through brutally hot summer days - 1944

Farm workers under the banner of the new United Farm Workers Organizing Committee strike at Texas’s La Casita Farms, demand $1.25 as a minimum hourly wage - 1966

Dakota Beef meatpackers win 7-hour sit-down strike over speed-ups, St. Paul, Minn. - 2000

General Motors filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The filing made the automaker the largest U.S. industrial company to enter bankruptcy protection. It went on to recover thanks to massive help from the UAW and the federal government - 2009

June 02
Twenty-six journeymen printers in Philadelphia stage the trade’s first strike in America over wages: a cut in their $6 weekly pay - 1786

A constitutional amendment declaring that "Congress shall have power to limit, regulate, and prohibit the labor of persons under eighteen years of age" was approved by the Senate today, following the lead of the House five weeks earlier. But only 28 state legislatures ever ratified the amendment—the last three in 1937—so it has never taken effect - 1924

The U.S. Supreme Court rules that President Harry Truman acted illegally when he ordered the Army to seize the nation’s steel mills to avert a strike - 1952

Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America and Textile Workers Union of America merge to form Amalgamated Clothing & Textile Workers Union - 1976

—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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