Must a shop steward be paid for after-hours service?

Bill Couglin was a conscientious shop steward. Every Thursday afternoon union and management representatives met from 4:00-6:00 p.m. to discuss grievances and other matters of mutual interest. One day, the union president invited Couglin to sit in.


Bill Couglin was a conscientious shop steward. Every Thursday afternoon union and management representatives met from 4:00-6:00 p.m. to discuss grievances and other matters of mutual interest. One day, the union president invited Couglin to sit in.

"It's not compulsory," he said, "but you might learn something and make a contribution in the process."

Couglin was glad to oblige. After attending the meetings for a few weeks, he appeared at Maintenance Foreman Sam Rayfield's desk.

"According to the contract, a steward is supposed to be paid for time he spends on union business. I've been sticking around a couple of hours on Thursday afternoons. I should be compensated for the time."

Rayfield disagreed. "That pay only applies if you spend time that's lost from work."

"That's beside the point. The union president wants me to attend because of the ideas I contribute."

"In that case you should be paid by the union."

Question: Does Coughlin have a valid claim?

Murray's decision: "No extra compensation for the steward," Plant Engineer Ralph Murray told Rayfield when filled in on the beef. "I can think of only two situations where he would be entitled to extra pay. One is if he sustained any loss of earnings because of his attendance. The other would be where the contract specified payment for time spent during nonworking hours. Neither provision applies in this case."

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