Problem 2. Mr. Mom
Amy Lawrence and John Delford have both been working for Defense Plants, Inc. for over 20 years. Amy is a supervisor and John is a production worker as well as a union steward for the smallest manufacturing plant. According to employment records, they have performed their respective jobs well over the years and have acted professionally in the past, representing their respective sides properly.
Bob Edwards has been an employee only 11 weeks. As of last Tuesday, he joined the union, which he was allowed to do after 10 weeks of employment.
Bob’s supervisor is Amy Lawrence. Last Wednesday, a day after he joined the union, Bob informed Amy that he was not able to stay late on Wednesdays to complete a clean up job even though Amy reminded him twice. In fact, Amy informed Bob that now that he is a permanent employee and under the union contract, he is required to clean up each Wednesday, once a week, after work hours. Bob has apologized to Amy, but has also advised her that he is not able to do the cleaning because he must leave at 5 p.m. sharp each day to pick up his daughter Telitha from day care. (His wife works evenings.)
Following are further details about the case:
- Bob’s job description does not actually contain clean up as one of his tasks.
- Bob did notify Amy when he first started the job that he needed to leave promptly at 5 P.M. each day to pick up his daughter. Amy told him she was sure they could work something out.
- Bob has asked John Delford, the union steward, to obtain an exception for him.
- John Delford, however, agrees with Amy that a one-year-old change in the union contract requires all full time permanent employees to clean up after hours, up to 45 minutes, once per week, as designated by a supervisor. John says he is not able to obtain an exception for Bob.
- When Bob continues to leave sharply at 5 p.m. on Wednesdays without cleaning up, Amy threatens him with discharge. To comply, Bob finally switches day care providers to a more expensive one in another part of town, farther away, with more flexible hours.
- Meanwhile, in Amy’s presence, John has called Bob a “sissy man”, “Mr. Mom” “dirty Daddy” and other names. Amy scolded John, but did not take any disciplinary action. Since then, Bob has found notes and pictures in his lunchbox, ridiculing his role as Mr. Mom. In retaliation, Bob’s supporters have been anonymously posting rude slogans implying that the union and company are unethically colluding.
- The older employees have sided with Amy and John and the younger ones with Bob. It turns out that this issue has struck a nerve, as a number of the younger employees have had problems with the new policy. While the older employees are happy with the union and the employer, the younger employees are very unhappy. They want a new family friendly policy, which the older employees think will just spoil the workers.
- The younger employees consider the treatment of Bob to be something like “gender plus” sexual harassment, in that he is required to make extra sacrifice due to his responsibility as a father having to cope with day care.
- The atmosphere at the plant has become hostile. Several employees have threatened to quit the union, and there have been shouting matches in the lunchroom. The older employees say they are going to protest or go on strike if Bob gets his way, and the younger ones say they are going to find work elsewhere if John isn’t fired as the union steward.
- Bob begins to have trouble with his health because of the stress. For one thing, he now has high blood pressure, which he has never had before. He decides to hire an attorney to sue both the company and the union. The attorney sends a demand letter, asking for Bob to receive an apology from the union and the company and an exception from the clean up duty. The attorney has offered to meet with representatives of the company and the union.
You are an official of the union brought in to resolve this problem. Write a memo in Word with suggestions on how you would propose to solve this labor-employment problem. Refer to principles and examples from your reading.