Need-to-know information is the union’s right

When a revised Manual of Work Assignments was published, it triggered complaints from the work force. One dispute led to a grievance filed by Ted Wilke, a Grade II electrician.
By Raymond Dreyfack October 1, 1998

When a revised Manual of Work Assignments was published, it triggered complaints from the work force. One dispute led to a grievance filed by Ted Wilke, a Grade II electrician. Shop Steward Phil Krantz asked Maintenance Supervisor George Graham to forward information to the union outlining the terms and conditions of the work assignment changes that had been made.

Graham obliged by running off a two-sheet photocopy titled Summary of Work Assignment Changes and sent it off to the union.

Two days later, Krantz appeared at Graham’s desk. “That summary you mailed to the union is unacceptable. They need a detailed report including the basic time-study data.”

“That’s confidential information,” Graham replied. “Whatever the union needs to know is included in the summary.”

“The powers that be disagree,” Krantz persisted.

“Okay, I’ll check it out and get back to you.”

Question : Is the company required to give the union the detailed information it requests?

Plant engineer’s verdict: “Send them the detailed information they want,” Plant Engineer Sid Collum instructed the supervisor. “Arbitrators are pretty much in agreement that the union should have whatever information it needs to make sure the contract is adhered to properly in the processing of grievances. If we give them a hard time on this, in the end we’ll be compelled to do it anyway. We’ll be better off cooperating voluntarily.”