Can the union prevent a wage increase?

I'm worried," Maintenance Manager Mark Howard told Plant Engineer Phil Perkins. "What about?" "A rumor is circulating that Bill Simon is shopping around for another job.
By Raymond Dreyfack February 1, 1999

I’m worried,” Maintenance Manager Mark Howard told Plant Engineer Phil Perkins.

“What about?”

“A rumor is circulating that Bill Simon is shopping around for another job. That would leave us with only two skilled instrument mechanics.”

Perkins frowned. It was no news to him that experienced instrument mechanics were in short supply.

“What would you suggest?”

“I’m not sure we’re competitive enough in the job market. I think a wage upgrade for the classification would help to keep those guys from getting restless.”

“Hmm.” Perkins looked thoughtful. “That might be a good move. The problem is I don’t know if we can do it unilaterally. The contract specifies that the company can’t make wage adjustments without the union’s approval.”

“Even upward adjustments?”

“Possibly. I’m not sure. I’ll give Eve Dworkin in Legal a call.”

Question: Do you think the union might object to a unilateral increase for instrument mechanics?

Expert’s opinion: “It may be worth a try,” the lawyer told Perkins. “But my guess is that the union’s objection is a distinct possibility. Unions tend to argue in behalf of all members and often resent singling out one person or group for benefits that exclude the rest of the workforce.”