Question Case Scenario One Grievance/Arbitration - Seawright vs Davidge You have been hired as the Human Resources Manager, the senior human...
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Question Case Scenario One 

    Grievance/Arbitration - Seawright vs Davidge

You have been hired as the Human Resources Manager, the senior human resources role for Seawright Enterprises a manufacturer and distributor of plastic containers. This includes plastic bottles used to package hand sanitizer, soap and cleaning products. Due to the products that it manufactures, Seawright is continuing operations during the current pandemic.

Seawright is located in the Hamilton, Ontario area and employs 160 people. 110 are employed in production and distribution. 10 of these are supervisory personnel and the remaining 100 are members of a bargaining unit represented by Teamsters Local 555. Seawright employs another 50 non-union staff in various administration, sales and managerial roles. Their payroll is in excess of $12 million.


Seawright Enterprises was recently purchased by a larger company based in the United States, Helliwell Corporation, and they installed a new General Manager, Al Morrison, who you report directly to. Al has spent his entire working career in the United States and therefore is unaware of Canadian laws and regulations. Al's mandate is to improve the efficiency of the Hamilton facility and lower the labour cost, per unit produced. As a manufacturing organization, located in the province of Ontario, Seawright falls under provincial jurisdiction in regards to labour, and employment legislation.


Seawright's production department is divided into 2 units of 50 workers. Each unit has a shop steward. The distribution area also has 50 workers and a shop steward. The chief steward works in one of the production units. The workers originally organized after they became upset over what they believed was unfair treatment by the previous Plant Manager who favoured some workers and dismissed others based on how he felt that day. Seawright recently completed negotiations with their local and the contract was ratified for a period of one (1) year. This is the 3rd contract between Seawright and Teamsters Local 555.

 

Prior to settling the workers engaged in a 15-day strike, an action suggested by their chief steward Brian Davidge. Prior to negotiations the workers engaged in an illegal wildcat strike led by the chief steward. This was in response to the area supervisor allegedly ignoring a safety issue, after it was reported by a worker. Davidge is 60 years old and jointed the company at the age of 33. Therefore, he has 3 more years of service to qualify for his pension. He is also one of the longest serving workers at Seawright. His role in production is physically demanding and requires that he assist in the set-up and routine maintenance of production equipment. The equipment that Seawright uses are specialized and there are only a few other companies in North America which use similar equipment.


Davidge was highly regarded by his co-workers, which is why he was originally elected as Chief Steward. He was re-elected prior to the last set of negotiations because nobody ran against him, in respect for his previous history with the union, and his years of service.   


However, over the past 18 months his performance and attendance have greatly deteriorated. He seems to have established a pattern of arriving late or missing work on Mondays. His absenteeism is 3 times the company average of 8 days per calendar year. In addition he has been late 4 times more than the company average of 5 late days per year.


On your second week on the job, your General Manager, Al Morrison calls you into his office and states that he "wants you to get rid of Davidge".

Although the collective agreement stipulates (10.2) that employees are to contact their Supervisor for any absence that has not been previously authorized, Davidge has not done so for 15 of his 24 absences over the past year. It further stipulates (10.3) that failure to do so, will result in progressive discipline being implemented. It also states (10.4) that any employee missing more than 15 days of work in a calendar year will be required to provide documentation, including if applicable a medical note, as proof of their need to miss work. 


Last month an entire production run of nearly 3 hours had to be scrapped because Davidge had not set-up the machine correctly and the product mix was not correct.


Recently other workers have started to complain that he has been moody and disrespectful and unwilling to help them perform their duties. 


You return to your office, gather up Mr. Davidge's employee file and discover to your consternation that there are no medical notes or other documents regarding his absences, and that there are also no records of him receiving any disciplinary warnings or letters. In fact his file has no records that are less than 5 years old regarding attendance, discipline or performance. Furthermore, after conducting additional research, you discover that there are no disciplinary records regarding attendance at all, for any workers during the past 3 years.


Even though you present arguments against it, the General Manager, Al Morrison is insistent and Brian Davidge is terminated. He files a grievance for unjust dismissal which is heard by a single arbitrator


what could a single aribtator decision and rational be for this case?

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