When is a longtime past practice not binding?

In 1986 management eliminated vending machines in the cafeteria as "inefficient and uneconomical" after they had been in existence 3 yr. "They shouldn't have been installed in the first place," the plant manager said.

05/01/1998


In 1986 management eliminated vending machines in the cafeteria as "inefficient and uneconomical" after they had been in existence 3 yr. "They shouldn't have been installed in the first place," the plant manager said. "The company's too small to make them pay their way."

At that time a request was granted for employees to bring in their own coffee makers. From then on workers enjoyed coffee indulgence at will. Since 1986 business had boomed and the personnel roster almost tripled. In addition, the closing of a nearby diner made eating facilities in the area more distant and inconvenient. The company was now better suited for vending machines than it had been in the past, management decided. Plant Engineer Carl Hammer negotiated with a food supplier who agreed to install machines if employees were prohibited from brewing their own coffee. When Hammer decided to comply with this proviso, employees, represented by a two-man committee, protested.

"You can't do that unilaterally," the spokesperson said. "We've been brewing our own coffee for years. It's a long-time practice and has become a working condition."

Question: Does management have the right to revoke the coffee making privilege?

Expert's opinion: Hammer discussed the workers' objection with Corporate Attorney Ellen Weiss who felt the mandate was justified. "When the employees' request to use their own machines was granted, it was in response to a situation that existed at the time and no longer applies. It is now deemed beneficial to both the company and employees for vending machines to be installed, an arrangement that's impossible so long as employee machines are permitted. While it's true that long-time practice is sometimes sacrosanct and irrevocable, in this case I think we're within our rights."





The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
Doubling down on digital manufacturing; Data driving predictive maintenance; Electric motors and generators; Rewarding operational improvement
2017 Lubrication Guide; Software tools; Microgrids and energy strategies; Use robots effectively
Prescriptive maintenance; Hannover Messe 2017 recap; Reduce welding errors
The cloud, mobility, and remote operations; SCADA and contextual mobility; Custom UPS empowering a secure pipeline
Infrastructure for natural gas expansion; Artificial lift methods; Disruptive technology and fugitive gas emissions
Mobility as the means to offshore innovation; Preventing another Deepwater Horizon; ROVs as subsea robots; SCADA and the radio spectrum
Research team developing Tesla coil designs; Implementing wireless process sensing
Commissioning electrical systems; Designing emergency and standby generator systems; Paralleling switchgear generator systems
Natural gas engines; New applications for fuel cells; Large engines become more efficient; Extending boiler life

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
The maintenance journey has been a long, slow trek for most manufacturers and has gone from preventive maintenance to predictive maintenance.
Featured articles highlight technologies that enable the Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies to get data more easily to the user.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me