Raymond Dreyfack, Contributing Editor


HMI, OI November 1, 2005

Human Side – 2005-11-01 – 2005-11-01

How does a temporary transfer affect pay rate? The day stockroom attendant Gail Griffen was granted a two-week leave of absence to help organize and straighten out family affairs after her father's death, maintenance foreman Mike Rizzo approached Alison Garth. "Do you think you can handle Gail's job?" "No problem," Alison replied. Three employees were employed in the stockroom: Gail Griffen, Alison Garth and one other assistant. Garth performed well during Griffen's absence. A temp was brought in the fill the gap. A week later on Friday, following the disbursement of paychecks, Garth appeared at foreman Rizzo's desk. "What's the problem?" Garth presented her paycheck.

By Raymond Dreyfack, Contributing Editor
Power October 1, 2005

Human Side – 2005-10-01

Effective hiring practices saves trouble down the line "It's recruitment time and the stakes are high. So states HR Matters, published by Personnel Policy Service, Inc. The report goes on to cite an industry rule of thumb that asserts hiring the wrong person can be expected to cost three times the person's annual salary during the course of employment. The trick in recruiting is to bend over backwards to ensure that the person you too hastily hire doesn't slowly drag you to court some time in the future. "I can't get this point across too firmly," plant engineer Joe Hadley told maintenance foreman Chuck McDonald one bright sunny Monday morning in October.

By Raymond Dreyfack, Contributing Editor
Lubrication September 1, 2005

Human Side – 2005-09-01

A rule is a rule — and then there are exceptions The 17th century English clergyman Robert Burton wrote: "No rule is so general which admits of no exception." We say, kudos for Burton. And double kudos for any corporate executive or supervisor who endorses and supports Burton's well-expressed sentiment. True, no nation, state, institution, corporation, corporate division or department could run efficiently without a custom tailored set of well-formulated rules established in an effort to regulate proper procedure and behavior.

By Raymond Dreyfack, Contributing Editor
Workforce Development August 1, 2005

Human side – 2005-08-01

When promoted, how long does past seniority last? Bill Chernoff had been a hardworking and conscientious member of Tony Royal's work group for more than three years. It was thus no surprise when, upon Tony's retirement, Maintenance Supervisor Arthur Sondheim, appointed Bill to take over the group. At the outset Bill was happy to receive the promotion and especially pleased with the pay raise that went with it. At least that's what he told himself.

By Raymond Dreyfack, Contributing Editor
Safety Standards June 1, 2005

Human side – 2005-06-01

Incentive bonuses also affect overtime pay Global Products' unexpectedly large rush order, specifying a July 15th delivery date, created a hectic work situation plant wide. As the shipping date drew alarmingly close, a management meeting was held to deal with the situation. Production Manager John Tower pulled no punches when he declared, "Like it or not, some of those guys are going to have to postpone their vacations." Plant Engineer Charley Kosten agreed. "Global is one of our biggest customers. We have no choice but to get that shipment out on time. "One thing I can guarantee," Personnel Manager Lou Koslowski added.

By Raymond Dreyfack, Contributing Editor
HMI, OI May 1, 2005

Human side – 2005-05-01

Age discrimination: Is your plant vulnerable? As I view it, the recently widened Supreme Court protections against age discrimination in the workplace trigger two key questions: Is my company a candidate for court action stemming from age discrimination? (Of equal if not greater importance) Are we getting maximum productivity yield from our older employees? In a nutshell, the ruling opens the door for older workers in companies with payrolls of 20 or more to claim discrimination based on "disparate impact" rather than discriminatory intent. To escape unscathed, an employer must prove the existence of a "reasonable factor" in response to a grievance. In short, if X receives a 3-day suspension for a time card abuse, under ordinary circumstances you can't fire Y for the same offense without a convincing explanation. Court Action: How Big a Concern? Big enough, considering that as Denver-based consultant Sheldon Steinhauser points out, about 20% of discrimination charges filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) are for age discrimination.

By Raymond Dreyfack, Contributing Editor
Safety Standards April 1, 2005

Human Side – 2005-04-01

Flexibility enhances the best of rules The 17th century philosopher and theologian Robert Burton wrote that "no rule is so general which admits of no exception." It's a thought for rule makers and rule enforcers—managers and supervisors—to ponder. Presumably, rules are established with a positive purpose in mind. In short, so far as the plant or company is involved, adherence to a rule in question should be beneficial to its bottom line performance.

By Raymond Dreyfack, Contributing Editor
Workforce Development March 10, 2005

Human side – 2005-03-10

Planning a large layoff? Take care Plant Engineer Hank Selleck had sweated hard times before, but never this tough. The small tool manufacturing plant employed 96 people. The introduction of new technology and other industry changes had all but destroyed the viability of the company's major product line that accounted for much of its sales and profits. Profits.

By Raymond Dreyfack, Contributing Editor
Power February 10, 2005

Human side – 2005-02-10

Voluntary stepdown What rate of pay? Class I Welder Juan Gomez had sensitive nostrils. He sniffed a change in the wind. He had too much time on his hands without jobs being assigned.

By Raymond Dreyfack, Contributing Editor
Lighting January 10, 2005

Human side – 2005-01-10

Cash or check Can management switch how you're paid? As far back as most employees could recall, they had received their compensation in cash. When Plant Engineer Sam Lipsky voiced the opinion that the policy of paying wages in cash was behind the times, the general manager agreed. A notice was posted on the bulletin board that effective the following month, employees would receive their wages by check. The announcement was greeted by a storm of protest. Unit Representative Mark Bluestein appeared at Maintenance Foreman Tony Gambino's desk to voice his objection. Echoing the feelings of the workforce, Gambino claimed that the long-established cash payment policy was as much a protected benefit as the coffee break or parking privilege. Bluestein disagreed.

By Raymond Dreyfack, Contributing Editor
Lubrication December 10, 2004

Human Side – 2004-12-10

Monitoring your people How far should you go? Maintenance Foreman Jim Davis glanced at his wrist. The Valentine jig construction job should have been done by now. Ralph Perkins was running late.

By Raymond Dreyfack, Contributing Editor
Lighting November 10, 2004

Human Side – 2004-11-10

Good people keep quitting What can management do to address it? Gazing at the latest Manpower Status Report on his desk, Maintenance Foreman Donald Fritchie was disturbed by the figures. Voluntary resignations of qualified employees during the past six months had exceeded the number of departmental discharges for cause or failure to satisfactorily complete the probationary period. More and more of the good guys were quitting, and they were getting tougher and tougher to replace. Fritchie conceded he was not employed by a notoriously high paying plant.

By Raymond Dreyfack, Contributing Editor
Workforce Development October 10, 2004

Human side – 2004-10-10

Anti-company behavior Don't sit for it When Electrician Grade II George Miller was bypassed once again for promotion by Foreman Al Clement, he went ranting and raving all over the place. "I got the seniority," he groused, "and I got the experience. It's a clear case of prejudice." "Against what?" a coworker asked him. "You're 35 years old, and you're not a minority member." "He's prejudiced against me.

By Raymond Dreyfack, Contributing Editor
Workforce Development September 10, 2004

Human Side – 2004-09-10

Question: If Martin follows through on a lawsuit, do you think he will win? Gershon's opinion: "Martin's chances are nonexistent or slim," Plant Engineer Vincent Gershon told the supervisor. "For one thing, he knew what he was getting into when he accepted the transfer. For another, he will have to prove that management knew that the transfer was hazardous to his health, was in a position to co...

By Raymond Dreyfack, Contributing Editor
Workforce Development August 9, 2004

Human side – 2004-08-09

Labor management committee Define its power In the interest of labor-management cooperation and goodwill, the general manager decided to establish a joint committee that would hopefully create improved understanding and efficiency. The committee was composed of six members, three selected by management and three from the bargaining unit. The purpose of the committee as defined in the company's policy manual was to: Discuss work areas where modifications designed to improve operations might be made. Consider ideas designed to favorably alter communication and working conditions. Come up with ways to improve productivity, conserve materials, or introduce other economies. The joint committee functioned harmoniously for six months. Then at one meeting a proposed change involving the introduction of automated equipment was revealed by a member of management.

By Raymond Dreyfack, Contributing Editor
Workforce Development July 8, 2004

Human side – 2004-07-08

Employee's life is made miserable Is company liable? Jessica Kelly was a clerical employee in the maintenance department. Her life was made so miserable by John Brandon, her supervisor, that she had fainting spells, suffered a nervous disorder, and had to undergo medical treatment. Both her family doctor and a psychologist recommended Jessica quit her job.

By Raymond Dreyfack, Contributing Editor
Safety Standards June 10, 2004

Human side – 2004-06-10

Employee in trouble Needs help, not lecture A week after returning from a three-week medical leave, Utility Worker Susan Walsh appeared at Alex Carpenter's desk. "What now?" the supervisor asked. "My doctor says I need two more weeks of leave." Carpenter rolled his eyes upward. Walsh walked with a limp. Her medical problem as reported was related to a back injury and osteoporosis. According to plant scuttlebutt, Susan's husband was abusive. A longtime employee, Walsh was a marginal performer at best.

By Raymond Dreyfack, Contributing Editor
Workforce Development May 10, 2004

Human side – 2004-05-10

Accommodating disabilities Can demands be unreasonable? Bert Kriegman, a service mechanic with a badly crippled leg incurred in an automobile accident a year before, complained that the company was not doing enough to accommodate his disability. He contended that as a long-time employee he deserved more consideration. Maintenance Supervisor Max Redlich sympathized with Kriegman's problem, but disagreed with his contention. "I've been bending over backward to make life as easy for you as possible." "If that's true," Kriegman replied, "you would have constructed those two ramps I requested a few months ago." "I looked into that," Redlich said, "but it would have been prohibitively expensive to build those ramps." Redlich pointed out as he had in the past that he went out of his way to assign the mechanic jobs that were as conveniently accessible as possible, and to avoid assignments where Kriegman would have to climb steps.

By Raymond Dreyfack, Contributing Editor
Safety Standards April 8, 2004

Human Side – 2004-04-08

Supervisory instinct and experience Are they enough to shorten a trial period? The company's lab and production departments used several complex and unusual instruments for measurement and other purposes. When an opening for Instrument Specialist Trainee occurred, Maintenance Manager Jack Kaufeld searched the roster long and hard for a viable candidate. His search assured him of only one thing: Selecting the right person would be a difficult choice to make. Should he go outside to fill the vacancy, or give one of his own people a chance? Since management encouraged promotion from within, Kaufeld decided to give Mechanic Grade I Bill Axelrod, the most promising candidate, a shot at the job.

By Raymond Dreyfack, Contributing Editor
Workforce Development March 10, 2004

Human side – 2004-03-10 – 2004-03-10

Beware of e-mail It can be used against you Maria Sanchez was stunned when informed by Maintenance Department Foreman Pete Carlson that she was being downgraded to Administrative Assistant Class II and assigned to another section. Ann Kramer, as spelled out in the same directive, was being upgraded from Class II to Class I and assigned to take over her job. A glaring example of race discrimination as Sanchez viewed the situation.

By Raymond Dreyfack, Contributing Editor
Workforce Development February 10, 2004

Human Side – 2004-02-10 – 2004-02-10

Smoke-free policy: How far can you go? Long-time maintenance department Supply Room Attendant Rose Krause's eyes were tearing, her nose and throat were becoming irritated, and she was getting a headache again. There was no doubt in Krause's mind regarding the cause. Cigarette smoke. Sure enough, two employees were working on an electrical line no more than 30 feet away, both puffing away like smokestacks. She called out, "Please, put out those cigarettes.

By Raymond Dreyfack, Contributing Editor
Safety Standards January 10, 2004

Human Side – 2004-01-10 – 2004-01-10

Applicant turndown Is hearing impairment valid reason? When Administrative Assistant Jenny Rudin opted for early retirement at age 57, it left Maintenance Supervisor Harold Griffin in a bind. Rudin was a quick study and a lady of diversified skills. She had been employed at a host of clerical tasks most of her life.

By Raymond Dreyfack, Contributing Editor
Pumps December 10, 2003

Human Side – 2003-12-10 – 2003-12-10

Workers protest Incentive plan deemed unfair To say that the workforce objected to the company's recently announced incentive plan would be the understatement of the year. The union kept haranguing management with worker protests of unfairness. Since the plan was part and parcel of the collective bargaining agreement, Union Delegate Frank Delgrasso demanded detailed information related to the time-study analysis on which it was presumably based. Although annoyed by what he regarded as harassment, Plant Manager Al Levinson complied. His compliance didn't satisfy Delgrasso. He persisted in claiming that there were too many loopholes and too much confusion. As patiently as possible, Levinson tried to explain every item presented to the union delegate's satisfaction. Delgrasso kept shaking his head.

By Raymond Dreyfack, Contributing Editor
Pumps November 1, 2003

Human Side – 2003-11-01 – 2003-11-01

Regular out sick Can management pick sub? Was it a virus, or what? Maintenance Supervisor Oscar Coleman had no idea. But whatever the problem, what he did know was that Group Leader Ernie Stollen's absence was causing him problems. Coleman called Ernie at home and spoke with his wife. "What's the story, Edna?" She sighed.

By Raymond Dreyfack, Contributing Editor
Workforce Development October 10, 2003

Human Side – 2003-10-10 – 2003-10-10

The 90-day seniority rule Is it in effect in your plant? If there's one thing you can count on in this messed up universe, it is the inevitability of change. The economic climate changes, product design and content changes, customer demands change, methodology changes, and in manufacturing plants from coast to coast manpower requirements change in response to changing conditions. A good test of an effective executive is his or her ability to predict and plan for change. But however skilled a manager may be, the unexpected occurs.

By Raymond Dreyfack, Contributing Editor
Workforce Development September 10, 2003

Human Side – 2003-09-10 – 2003-09-10

Recovering alcoholic How far backward must you bend? Utility Man Gerald Shea had been given one break too many, in Maintenance Supervisor Arthur Jolson's view. Shea's performance was only marginally acceptable when he was sober. After hitting the bottle, it was anything but. Jolson couldn't recall how many times he had been on the verge of firing the guy.

By Raymond Dreyfack, Contributing Editor
Safety Standards July 14, 2003

Human Side – 2003-07-14 – 2003-07-14

Summoned by OSHA to testify Must they be paid for time lost? When Jonas Quinn, a painter in the maintenance department, sustained serious injuries following a fall from a scaffolding, Harold Falk, an inspector from the Occupation Safety and Health Administration, was brought in to investigate. During the course of his probe a question arose about the proper condition and maintenance of the scaffolding. After interviewing two employees, Falk cited the company for being in violation of safety standards. Management contested the citation and two workers, Adam Rifkin and Donald Henderson, were subpoenaed to appear at the hearing. Maintenance Supervisor Chuck Nettle had been notified in advance that the men would be absent from work that day to attend. When payday rolled around the following Tuesday, Rifkin and Henderson appeared at Nettle's desk. "What's the problem?" Henderson acted as spokesman.

By Raymond Dreyfack, Contributing Editor
Workforce Development November 15, 2002

Human Side – 2002-11-15

Money matters: Can a new hire be paid more than a veteran? When Electrician Andy Russo learned how much Electrician Joe Fallon was being paid, he all but blew a fuse. More to the point, he demanded a raise. "No way," Maintenance Supervisor Alex Dworkin replied. "Your performance doesn't merit it." "Playing favorites is unfair," Russo protested. "That remark isn't justified.

By Raymond Dreyfack, Contributing Editor
Safety Standards September 1, 2001

Human Side of Engineering – 2001-09-01

Is morale a miracle productivity cure-all?Is good employee morale the magic touchstone that ensures high productivity? Not necessarily. No question, morale's effect on performance cannot be disputed. But viewing it as a be-all and end-all solution to productivity problems is a mistake made by too many managers.

By Raymond Dreyfack, Contributing Editor
Safety & PPE August 1, 2001

Human Side of Engineering – 2001-08-01

Can you reject a recall based on a possible problem? Maintenance Utility Man Joe Fenning had a history of back trouble. When he and others had been laid off, Foreman Harry Nadler's undisguised feeling was "Good riddance!" Now with a recall in the works, Nadler wanted to avoid rehiring Fenning if possible.

By Raymond Dreyfack, Contributing Editor
Workforce Development March 1, 2001

Human Side of Engineering – 2001-03-01

In this issue, Human Side of Engineering offers another case of "The Uncommon Side." This feature presents incidents drawn from actual situations faced by plant engineers that are of a special or unusual nature.

By Raymond Dreyfack, Contributing Editor
Safety Standards September 1, 2000

Human Side of Engineering – 2000-09-01 – 2000-09-01

In the April 2000 issue of Plant Engineering, Human Side of Engineering presented "Uncommon side: The daytime surfer-Part I.

By Raymond Dreyfack, Contributing Editor
Safety Standards August 1, 2000

Human Side of Engineering – 2000-08-01 – 2000-08-01

Vacations: August approved for Joe, but not for Bill Carpenter Grade A Bill Forest was up in arms. Utility Worker Joe Falk's request for an August vacation date had been okayed; his had been turned down.

By Raymond Dreyfack, Contributing Editor
Lubrication July 1, 2000

Human Side of Engineering – 2000-07-01 – 2000-07-01

Names used in Human Side of Engineering are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons is coincidental.

By Raymond Dreyfack, Contributing Editor