Uncommon side: Unfriendly times at UPS — part II
Part I of this case was presented in the October 1997 issue of Plant Engineering.
Our UPS case raises a number of questions. Most significant is, did he have the right to picket? Florida Sun-Sentinel business writer Tom Steighorst says, he “entered the twilight zone… when he showed up to picket the UPS facility while on leave from the company with the birth of his first child.”
Uncommon Side expert Leonard J. Smith, former Rutgers University professor and AAA arbitrator, believes the worker had the right to picket. “Were he on medical leave,” Smith says, “it would have been another matter. If he was well enough to picket, he shouldn’t have been on medical leave.”
Uncommon Side expert Professor Seymour J. Fader raises another question, “Doesn’t family and medical leave imply that the employee be away from the workplace since such leave is full-time leave?”
As Steighorst points out, this case has a distinctive twilight zone odor. In any case, Smith feels that Hall might be subject to discipline for his behavior, but not termination.
Then too we have the question of counseling proposed by UPS. “What kind of counseling?” Fader asks. “Counseling for what? Will Hall be paid during the counseling period?” For his alleged death threats to hold water, Smith says, UPS must have proof of such threats.
Smith wonders too if UPS policy regarding family and medical leave has been adequately clarified. “Too many companies,” he says, “take action too quickly, and often emotionally, without properly laying the groundwork.”
Fader concludes, “Considering the time-consuming hassle to get this case before the NLRB, it might be in Hall’s best interest to go along with the company’s offer, assuming there is some validity to the death threats and the counseling is something more than anti-union brainwashing.”