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August 19, 2017
Posted On: Jul 26, 2017

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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

In the current Steward Update newsletter
Company Wrong to Order Saturday Overtime
A company violated its labor contract when it ordered two employees to work an extra four-hour shift after completing their eight hour Saturday shift. The arbitrator said the company’s local agreement with the union prohibited such mandatory assignments and that a multi-plant master agreement did not cover the situation. Furthermore, he noted that the company had sought mandatory Saturday overtime in bargaining and lost, and said the company could not resort to arbitration to win what it failed to win in negotiations. In addition, the past practice had been to bar mandatory work on weekends. He ordered grievants a Saturday shift off at the workers’ choice.

Labor Quote
The Boss's Union Advantage
“I’m union because I like the concept. I know my employees are protected. I also know that labor is readily available to me when I need it, and that labor will be well-trained and well qualified.”
—Charlotte VanHorn, contractor, Tri -State Drywall & Acoustical, Inc.

Labor Cartoon
Randy Glasbergen

Steward Tip

Helping Newer StewardsListen
Listening is a skill you’ve developed over the years that you’ve served as steward. You can put it to good use as a mentor. Ask new stewards how things are going and let them talk about what’s been happening, without commenting. Paraphrase what you hear first; don’t jump right in with explanations or answers. Sometimes just having the chance to talk will allow new stewards to “think out loud” and work their own way through a problem. Plus, it will help you develop some trust, so that new stewards will feel comfortable coming to you when they’re stuck or have made a mistake.
—Excerpted from The Union Steward’s Complete Guide (2nd Edition, Updated)

Today in Labor History
July 25
Workers stage a general strike—believed to be the nation’s first—in St. Louis, in support of striking railroad workers. The successful strike was ended when some 3,000 federal troops and 5,000 deputized special police killed at least eighteen people in skirmishes around the city - 1877
New York garment workers win closed shop and firing of scabs after 7-month strike – 1890

(No Contract, No Peace: A Legal Guide to Contract Campaigns, Strikes, and Lockouts: This book is a must-have for any union or activist considering aggressive action to combat management’s growing economic war against workers. No Contract, No Peace! references recent union activities and NLRB decisions that have affected the labor relations environment. Schwartz’s familiarity with labor and employment law combines with his activist spirit to provide innovative yet practical tips for mounting and maintaining meaningful campaigns designed to build union and workers’ power.)

Fifteen “living dead women” testify before the Illinois Industrial Commission.  They were “Radium Girls,” women who died prematurely after working at clock and watch factories, where they were told to wet small paintbrushes in their mouths so they could dip them in radium to paint dials.  A Geiger counter passed over graves in a cemetery near Ottawa, Illinois still registers the presence of radium - 1937
The Teamsters and Service Employees unions break from the AFL-CIO during the federation's 50th convention to begin the Change to Win coalition, ultimately comprised of seven unions (4 by 2011: SEIU, Teamsters, UFCW and the UFW). They say they want more emphasis on organizing and less on electoral politics - 2005

July 26
In Chicago, 30 workers are killed by federal troops, more than 100 wounded at the "Battle of the Viaduct" during the Great Railroad Strike - 1877
President Grover Cleveland appoints a United States Strike Committee to investigate the causes of the Pullman strike and the subsequent strike by the American Railway Union. Later that year the commission issues its report, absolving the strikers and blaming Pullman and the railroads for the conflict - 1894
Battle of Mucklow, W.Va., in coal strike. An estimated 100,000 shots were fired; 12 miners and four guards were killed - 1912
President Truman issues Executive Order 9981, directing equality of opportunity in armed forces - 1948

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) took effect today. It requires employers to offer reasonable accommodations to qualified employees with disabilities and bans discrimination against such workers - 1992
July 27
William Sylvis, founder of the National Labor Union, died - 1869

—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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