You are the warehouse foreman in a large public warehouse. You have thirty-five people working for you.
Was the warehouse manager right in reinstating Otto? Explain your answer and again address it from the perspective of handling the matter in a union environment.
Human Resources Assignment
The Company Gloves Case
You are the warehouse foreman in a large public warehouse. You have thirty-five people working for you. One frosty October morning you arrive at your desk to find a handwritten note from your boss instructing you to make sure that the workers do not wear company gloves except when they are needed for protecting the hands in unloading items with sharp edges like olive barrels and in handling cases of frozen eggs and fruit. They are to provide their own gloves for keeping their hands warm in cold weather.
You think to yourself that this rule is going to cause trouble but since you believe in being loyal to your boss and the company you decide to enforce the rule.
A few minutes later you walk out onto the dock where you see Ray Willis (forklift operator) wearing a new pair of company gloves. You explain the glove rule and ask him to turn over the gloves to you. Ray jokingly complies.
About fifteen minutes later you walk back into the warehouse by the number 4 elevator where you spot another forklift driver Otto Johnson wearing company gloves. As you walk up to him two things occur to you. One Otto is chief steward and head of the negotiating team. The company and the union are now engaged in negotiations on a new contract. Two Otto and you are going to have a showdown sooner or later because he has been challenging your authority ever since you were assigned to this shift. You know that Otto was a chief in the Navy and you feel that he thinks he is still chief.
You decide that the showdown should be later after the new union contract is signed. Just then however Ray Willis rides by on his fork truck and calls out “Otto what are you doing with
those company gloves on?”
You have no choice now but to ask that Otto turn over the gloves to you but Otto refuses to
comply with your order. You ask Otto again to give you the gloves or you will have to suspend him. He says “No- you didn’t give them to me and I am not going to give them back to you.”
“OK it is now 9:00 a.m. Consider yourself punched out. Go home now and report to the personnel office at 10:00 a.m. tomorrow. I’ll let you know then if you have a future with the company.”
While you are gone to another part of the warehouse to locate a replacement for Otto Otto goes to the warehouse manager (your boss) and convinces him that you treated him unfairly. Your boss reinstates Otto without consulting you.
When you find out that Otto is back at work you go to the warehouse manager’s office to complain. He tells you that you should not have suspended the man. You suggest that you both consult Mr. Flood the labor-relations manager but a phone call discloses that Mr. Flood will not be in his office until the afternoon. Your boss tells you that the man will continue to work until Mr. Flood returns.
At 1:00 p.m. your boss reaches Mr. Flood by phone and tells him the story. Mr. Flood says “Get that man off the job as soon as possible.” You relieve Otto again and tell him to report to the personnel office for a hearing at 10:00 a.m. tomorrow.
But Otto does not leave the warehouse. Instead he stays around to try to organize a strike. He circulates a petition to get you fired and several of the workers sign it but not a majority. Your boss tells you that if the workers walk out you will be fired.
By the end of the day cooler heads have prevailed and the workers have not walked off their
jobs. At 10:00 a.m. the next morning you meet in the personnel department conference room with the warehouse manager the labor relations manager and the personnel manager. Bill Dixon the union business agent is with Otto Johnson. The meeting is opened by Johnson telling his side of the story which is essentially that you cursed him and talked abusively to him and that Bill Poor the elevator operator could back up his story.