Can bumping privilege be contractually limited?

When Instrument Repairman Jeff Rankin's name was included on a maintenance department layoff list, he appeared at Foreman Ed Herrin's desk within minutes of the posting. "The contract says I have a right to bump an employee with lower seniority.


When Instrument Repairman Jeff Rankin's name was included on a maintenance department layoff list, he appeared at Foreman Ed Herrin's desk within minutes of the posting.

"The contract says I have a right to bump an employee with lower seniority."

"That's right. Who do you have in mind?"

"Mildred Skolnik. She was hired a year after me."

"I'll check it out and let you know."

Later Herrin summoned Rankin to his desk. "It's true that you can bump a person with less seniority, but the contract states this right is limited to the employee whose the least senior in your group. That's not Millie Skolnik, it's Buddy Ravitch."

"No way!" Rankin replied. "For one thing, most of the instruments Skolnik services are in the lab. Buddy's assignments are usually in the powder room which makes me cough when I go in there. On top of that, Buddy's my best friend. I sure as hell don't want to bump him."

"Sorry, Jeff, I don't make the rules. Take it or leave it."

"We'll see about that."

Question: Can Rankin specify the lower seniority job to which he wants to bump?

Plant engineer's verdict: "An employee can't overrule the labor agreement," Plant Engineer John Leonard told Rankin. "Since the contract specifically limits bumping to the least senior worker within the group, Rankin has no choice but to live with your 'take it or leave it' response."

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