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Arbitrator Sustains Suspension of Shop Steward for Promoting Refusal of Overtime Work

June 27, 2002

KM&M's client, a major lithographic printer, recently obtained an arbitration award sustaining the suspension of a union shop steward for promoting a refusal by a press crew to work assigned overtime. The crew originally agreed to work but refused to do so after the steward told the lead pressman that if the crew performed the work, the union would "file a grievance." The press crew interpreted this to mean that the union did not want the crew to work and that it would file a grievance against the crew if they performed the overtime. The union argued that the crew misunderstood; it asserted that the shop steward meant that the crew should perform the work, and that the union would subsequently file a grievance against the company. The arbitrator found that the union's explanation was simply incredible because there was no colorable grievance for the union to assert against the company. Accordingly, by suggesting that the crew would be subject to union discipline if they worked, the steward had improperly promoted a refusal to work overtime, and the suspension was therefore justified. The company's separate grievance against the union for violating the no-strike clause is awaiting arbitration.