New equipment, new employee?

When a customized lathe with many new and complex features was purchased, a deal was made with the supplier to furnish a specially trained operator to run it. This evoked a protest from the crew.


When a customized lathe with many new and complex features was purchased, a deal was made with the supplier to furnish a specially trained operator to run it. This evoked a protest from the crew.

"We have plenty of guys who can operate that machine," Sam Shaker, the crew's spokesman, declared to Maintenance Supervisor Don Selkirk.

Selkirk disagreed. "We have important special-purpose work orders waiting on that lathe. We need an operator with the skill and experience to do the job fast and efficiently."

"The new lathe replaces the older unit," Shaker persisted. "That means the guy brought in will replace our own man, Frank Hazen. What about that?"

Selkirk shrugged. "It can't be helped. Progress sometimes requires adjustments we don't like."

When Shaker promised to take the crew's case to a higher court, the foreman made a beeline for his boss' office.

Question: Is management within its rights in replacing the former operator with a contractual employee?

Fowler's decision: Plant Engineer Harry Fowler summoned Selkirk and Shaker to his office. "You both make valid points," he said. "On one hand, the company needs a trained and skilled operator now. On the other, I don't like having to bring in an outsider any better than you guys.

"I think we can solve this dilemma by assigning Frank to work with the new man as his helper until he becomes sufficiently skilled to handle the job on his own."

Selkirk and Sharker agreed that was fine with them.

"Good. I'll contact the supplier at once and set it up."

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