Use the terms and concepts covered in the course to analyze this case. Your essay should be between 250 and 500 words. PLEASE DO NOT EXCEED 500 WORDS!
Ironsteel and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (“Union”) were parties to a collective bargaining agreement expiring May 31, 2011 that covered approximately 250 Ironsteel employees at Ironsteel’s North Chicago plant. The Union and Ironsteel began negotiations in March hoping to reach an agreement before the expiration date of May 31st. The negotiations were unsuccessful; the parties were at an impasse. Specifically, the parties could not reach agreement on issues surrounding salary, benefits, and health insurance payments. As a result of the parties’ failure to negotiate a new agreement, the Union went out on strike on June 1, 2011. In response to the Union’s strike, Ironsteel hired 100 strike replacements, 90 of whom were assigned to Ironsteel’s entry level classifications.
During the final stages of the strike Ironsteel and the Union negotiated over the conditions under which the strikers might return to work. The parties agreed to the following language as part of a Strike Settlement Agreement:
“The strike against Ironsteel, Inc. by the Company’s employees who are members of the Union is terminated as of the date of this Agreement, July 15, 2011. Striking employees shall be returned to work to openings in the classifications occupied by the employee on May 31, 2011, in accordance with their respective seniority. The recall provisions of the collective bargaining agreement shall determine the order of return to work.”
In addition to the above agreed upon language, Ironsteel proposed that the Strike Settlement Agreement contain the following section (Paragraph 2), to which the Union objected:
“2. Jobs filled by employees hired by the Company on or after June 1, 2011 as strike replacements (new hires) for striking employees shall not be considered vacancies to which returning strikers shall be returned unless and until such jobs are vacated by the strike replacements. Such new hires shall not be bumped or displaced by the return of strikers. Such newly hired employees shall become members of the Union as stated in the collective bargaining agreement and their respective seniority shall be measured from their individual hire date.
Because the parties did not agree to Ironsteel’s proposal concerning Paragraph 2, the parties determined that while Paragraph 2 would physically remain in the printed Agreement, the following marginal notation would be added reflecting the parties’ failure to agree to this particular provision. This marginal note read:
“Paragraph 2 represents the position of the Company and is not agreed to by the Union or waived by the Company.”
A new collective bargaining agreement was signed by Ironsteel and the Union on July 15th, the same day the parties signed the Strike Settlement Agreement.
Despite the language of Paragraph 2, Ironsteel fired 10 of the strike replacements on July 17th. The 10 fired strike replacements had paid their union dues. To fill these 10 jobs, Ironsteel brought back 6
10 strikers in accordance with the recall provisions of the collective bargaining agreement. The 10 strike replacements filed a grievance alleging that their terminations were illegal.
In addition, Ironsteel fired the 12 highest paid strikers. The company thought this would be a good way to save money because if the 12 highly paid strikers returned, they would have retained their seniority and thus, their pay.
You’re the Human Resources Director for Ironsteel and have been charged with addressing the various issues presented by these facts. Your response should minimally respond to the following questions:
1. Was the strike legal?
2. What are the arguments that the 10 strike replacements will make? Were their terminations legal? Will the Union represent the 10 strike replacements? Are their grievances permitted? What is Ironsteel’s argument in rebuttal?
3. What are the arguments that the Union will make on behalf of the 12 highest paid strikers? Were their terminations legal? What is Ironsteel’s argument in rebuttal?
Use the specific statutory provisions, terms and concepts covered in this course to support your analysis.