Should extra work require extra pay?

It had long been the practice for department heads to divide the tasks of employees who reported sick or were on vacation among coworkers on duty.


It had long been the practice for department heads to divide the tasks of employees who reported sick or were on vacation among coworkers on duty. Then one day a group of employees, with support from the union, complained to Maintenance Supervisor Dave Hellman that this was an unfair burden and decided that they would make an issue of it.

"If extra work is imposed," Plant Steward Mark Grossinger griped, "people saddled with the work should get extra pay. Either that, or overtime should be scheduled to handle the extra chores."

Hellman disagreed. "If overtime were needed, overtime would be assigned, but that's management's job to determine, not the union's."

Grossinger persisted that under the labor agreement, compensation rates are determined by the type and amount of work involved, and are negotiable. "The least you could do is hire temps or recall retired workers, or employees on layoff to absorb the extra chores."

"That's neither practical nor necessary," Hellman countered. "For one thing, with the work equitably distributed, no one is given that much of a load. For another, experience proves that when inexperienced people are thrown into the breach it results in so much wasted time and disruption that more harm than help is produced."

Grossinger refused to back down and threatened a grievance.

Question : If Grossinger's threat is carried out, how do you rate the union's chances of winning?

Plant engineer's verdict: When informed of the disagreement, Plant Engineer Burt Borden replied, "My guess is that Grossinger is bluffing. So far as the contract is concerned, the negotiation requirement applies to published job descriptions relating to newly created jobs or those permanently changed for one reason or another. No clause in the contract refers to work assignments temporarily altered because of employee absence due to vacation or illness. If the union insists on grieving I think the nuisance value is all they'll get out of it."

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