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June 27, 2017
Posted On: May 17, 2017

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

In the current Steward Update newsletter
Protecting the Rights of Pregnant & Nursing Members
Too often, employers force pregnant and breastfeeding workers out of their jobs, or deny them accommodations they need to continue working, despite legal and collectively bargained protections. Jessica Craddock, a grocery worker in Tennessee, sued her employer for just that – illegally pushing her out of her job.

Labor Quote
Pay Should Reflect Effort
"We are not complaining about the work. We want to see our hard work reflected in our pay."
—Emmett J. Bogdon of NALC Branch 116, Indiana

Labor Cartoon
Bob Vojtko

Steward Tip
Writing up a Grievance
A good written grievance answers three simple questions:  In most cases, each of the three questions can be answered with one sentence, so ideally the written grievance is just three sentences long.
1.  What happened, or failed to happen?  (the circumstances) – Make sure you use the date of the incident when you write a grievance, while still leaving room for expanding the grievance if it turns out violations occurred on other dates as well, and make sure you date the grievance on the day you submit it to management.  The word "unjustly" is a good one to use in describing grievance situations.
2.  Why is the situation a grievance?  (the contention) – Ask yourself about the action:  Did it violate the contract?  Did it violate past practice?  Did it violate a law?  The phrase “and all other relevant articles of the contract” is a catch-all.  It can be used if you later find that the action violated other sections or if you aren’t sure which sections apply.
3.  How should the employer correct the situation?  (the remedy) – Ask yourself what the worker would have now if this situation had never happened.  “Be made whole” is another catch-all that can include everything due the worker – and the union – that you may not be aware of at the time you write the grievance.
Experienced stewards look at the remedy in this more strategic way – as an opportunity to gain something more from management.  But that actual negotiation takes place in the grievance meeting itself, not on paper.

—Excerpted from The Union Steward’s Complete Guide (2nd Edition, Updated)

Today in Labor History
May 17
Supreme Court outlaws segregation in public schools - 1954

Twelve Starbucks baristas in a midtown Manhattan store, declaring they couldn’t live on $7.75 an hour, signed cards demanding representation by the Industrial Workers of the World, or Wobblies - 2004
May 18
In what may have been baseball’s first labor strike, the Detroit Tigers refuse to play after team leader Ty Cobb is suspended: he went into the stands and beat a fan who had been heckling him.  Cobb was reinstated and the Tigers went back to work after the team manager’s failed attempt to replace the players with a local college team: their pitcher gave up 24 runs - 1912
Amalgamated Meat Cutters union organizers launch a campaign in the nation’s packinghouses, an effort that was to bring representation to 100,000 workers over the following two years - 1917

Jerry Wurf, who was to serve as president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) from 1964 to his death in 1981, born in New York City. The union grew from about 220,000 members to more than 1 million during his presidency - 1919

Big Bill Haywood, a founding member and leader of the Industrial Workers of the World (the Wobblies), dies in exile in the Soviet Union - 1928
Atlanta transit workers, objecting to a new city requirement that they be fingerprinted as part of the employment process, go on strike. They relented and returned to work six months later - 1950
Insurance Agents Int’l Union and Insurance Workers of America merge to become Insurance Workers Int’l Union (later to merge into the UFCW) - 1959

Oklahoma jury finds for the estate of atomic worker Karen Silkwood, orders Kerr-McGee Nuclear Co. to pay $505,000 in actual damages, $10 million in punitive damages for negligence leading to Silkwood’s plutonium contamination - 1979

May 19
Two hundred sixteen miners die from an explosion and its aftermath at the Fraterville Mine in Anderson County, Tenn.  All but three of Fraterville’s adult males were killed.  The mine had a reputation for fair contracts and pay—miners were represented by the United Mine Workers—and was considered safe; methane may have leaked in from a nearby mine - 1902
Shootout in Matewan, W. Va., between striking union miners (led by Police Chief Sid Hatfield) and coal company agents. Ten died, including seven agents - 1920

(Working Stiffs, Union Maids, Reds, and Riffraff: An Expanded Guide to Films About Labor: The conflict in W. Va. is the subject of the terrific film, Matewan, one of many movies included in this encyclopedic guide to 350 labor films from around the world, ranging from those you’ve heard of—Salt of the Earth, The Grapes of Wrath, Roger & Me—to those you’ve never heard of but will fall in love with once you see them.)
The Steel Workers Organizing Committee, formed by the Congress of Industrial Organizations, formally becomes the United Steelworkers of America - 1942
A total of 31 dockworkers are killed, 350 workers and others are injured when four barges carrying 467 tons of ammunition blow up at South Amboy, N.J. They were loading mines that had been deemed unsafe by the Army and were being shipped to the Asian market for sale - 1950

—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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