Can you fire a steward for overstepping his authority?

Electrician Grade I Larry Todd was a tough worker for management to live with under normal conditions. When he was elected plant steward, he became more obnoxious than ever. Todd was carried away by his new-found power.

02/01/1998


Electrician Grade I Larry Todd was a tough worker for management to live with under normal conditions. When he was elected plant steward, he became more obnoxious than ever. Todd was carried away by his new-found power. In an effort to direct favored tasks his way and generally throw his weight around, he put in his two cents when Maintenance Foreman Gary Oliner assigned jobs not to his liking. He advised employees to complain about assignments. Other times he questioned assignments on picayune grounds that they violated published job descriptions.

More than once, Todd encouraged employees to disobey instructions. Oliner warned him repeatedly not to interfere with matters beyond his jurisdiction. Todd replied he was only doing his job.

"Your job is to take up the issue with management if you feel there's been a contract violation, not counter supervisory instructions."

Todd shrugged in response and walked away.

Finally Oliner decided he had it with Todd. His interference was creating confusion, causing ill feeling in the department, and disrupting productivity. When he gave the steward notice, Todd's response was an angry protest and threat to sue.

Question : Do you think Oliner can make Todd's dismissal stick?

Plant engineer's decision: "The guy deserves to be fired," Plant Engineer Alan Hough ruled. "Assigning work is a management right and prerogative. If a steward has a complaint, his authorization is limited to taking it up with management. Todd repeatedly exceeded that limit. The record shows he was warned several times about his behavior. He can grieve to his heart's desire; it won't do him any good."





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