Can a senior bump a junior to avoid layoff?

When Instrument Repairman Grade I Alan Glasner's name appeared on the layoff list, he made a beeline to his boss' desk. "As a senior employee," he told Maintenance Supervisor John Murtagh, "I have the right to bump a junior worker if I can do his job.
By Raymond Dreyfack January 1, 2000

When Instrument Repairman Grade I Alan Glasner’s name appeared on the layoff list, he made a beeline to his boss’ desk.

“As a senior employee,” he told Maintenance Supervisor John Murtagh, “I have the right to bump a junior worker if I can do his job.”

“That’s true. Who did you have in mind?”

“Tony Randolph. I’d have no problem taking over for him.”

Murtagh frowned. “Tony’s a mechanic. He handles some specialized stuff. I’ll check into it and get back to you later.”

The supervisor examined Randolph’s job description, then checked Glasner’s record, background, and experience. Summoning the instrument repairman to his desk, he said he was sorry, but he’d have to turn down his bump request.

“How come? Randolph’s job is a piece of cake; I’d have no trouble handling it.”

“I’m not so sure of that,” Murtagh said. “Tony makes some tricky adjustments and repairs on equipment you have no experience with.”

“Big deal,” Glasner replied. “With a little training, I’d be able to master it in no time at all.”

The supervisor stood firm. No bump for Glasner.

“We’ll see about that,” the worker said.

Question: Is Glasner entitled to a chance to prove his contention that he’s qualified to handle Randolph’s job?

Benson’s verdict: Plant Engineer Axel Benson backed Murtagh’s stand. “The contract states,” he told Glasner, “that a senior employee is entitled to bump a junior worker if he possesses the ability and seniority to do his job. It also specifies ‘present rather than potential’ ability. Management is not obligated to provide training to qualify the senior for skill or experience he does not yet possess.”