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October 20, 2017
Posted On: Sep 13, 2017

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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

In the current Steward Update newsletter
Experts Disagree On Drug Test Meaning; Job Restored
When the urine samples provided by a worker were found to be inappropriate for testing, he was fired for “refusing to take a drug test.” The samples—taken randomly and without
notice three separate times—showed low levels of creatinine, making the sample “invalid” for testing. The worker claimed the fact that he was on a diet had caused the drop in creatinine levels. Two doctors—both highly regarded experts in the field—came to differing conclusions as to whether the type of diet would have caused the result. Furthermore, evidence did not suggest the worker could have altered the urine samples. Since the burden of proof for discharge rests on the company, the arbitrator ruled no discharge was warranted and ordered the worker restored to his previous job. No back pay for the five-month layoff was awarded because the grievance was not submitted within contractual time limits, the arbitrator said.

Labor Quote
Labor is Life
"As I pass up and down [my city] streets I see in many places the work my own hands have wrought on her buildings and I feel that in a sense I am a part of our city. My strength and whatever skills I possess are woven into her material fabric that will remain when I am gone, for Labor is Life taking a permanent form."
—Walter Stevenson: union carpenter, 1986

Labor Cartoon
Ken Benner

Steward Tip

The Right to Information
The employer’s obligation to furnish grievance information runs solely to the union.  Individual employees, including grievants, do not have legal standing to file information-request charges at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).  Stewards may file NLRB charges, but should always obtain approval from their chief steward, union president or business agent.
—Excerpted from The Union Steward’s Complete Guide (2nd Edition, Updated)

Today in Labor History
September 13
The Post Office Department orders 25,000 railway mail clerks to shoot to kill any bandits attempting to rob the mail - 1926
Eleven AFSCME-represented prison employees, 33 inmates die in four days of rioting at New York State’s Attica Prison and the retaking of the prison. The riot caused the nation to take a closer look at prison conditions, for inmates and their guards alike - 1971

September 14
The Amalgamated Association of Iron, Steel, and Tin Workers union calls off an unsuccessful 3-month strike against U. S. Steel Corporation subsidiaries - 1901

Gastonia, N.C., textile mill striker and songwriter Ella May Wiggins, 29, a mother of five, is killed when local vigilantes and thugs force the pickup truck in which she is riding off the road and begin shooting – 1929
A striker is shot by a bog owner (and town-elected official) during a walkout by some 1,500 cranberry pickers, members of the newly-formed Cape Cod Cranberry Pickers Union Local 1. State police were called, more strikers were shot and 64 were arrested. The strike was lost - 1933
Congress passes the Landrum-Griffin Act. The law expands many of the anti-labor provisions of the Taft-Hartley Act, increasing union reporting requirements and restricting secondary boycotting and picketing - 1959

(The Essential Guide To Federal Employment Laws, 4th edition: This is a well-indexed book, updated in 2013, offering the full text of 20 federal laws affecting workers’ lives, along with plain-English explanations of each. An entire chapter is devoted to each law, explaining what is allowed and prohibited and what businesses must comply with.)
September 15
Some 5,000 female cotton workers in and around Pittsburgh, Pa., strike for a 10-hour day. The next day, male trade unionists become the first male auxiliary when they gather to protect the women from police attacks. The strike ultimately failed - 1845
President Kennedy signs off on a $900 million public-works bill for projects in economically depressed areas - 1962

More than 350,000 members of the United Auto Workers begin what is to become a 69-day strike against General Motors - 1970
Int’l Association of Siderographers merges with Int’l Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers - 1992

—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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