Found: An Unsigned Card
Tara Wieznetski worked on the seat assembly line for an auto parts supplier in southern Ontario. She was an outgoing person who was regarded as a good worker although one who could get easily excited and sometimes openly display her displeasure with company management. However, her personnel file showed no disciplinary records during her five years with the company.
On Friday afternoon, Stan Fisher, the plantĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s assistant manager, went to TaraĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s work station and told her that starting next week she would be moved to another part of the assembly line, a place where new workers started out and frankly was the least desirable job on the line. Tara was shocked by the news and asked Stan if she had done something wrong. When he started to walk away, Tara started shouting at him and he turned to warn her to lower her voice. She turned away, uttering some choice words under her breath.
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On her way home later that day, Tara saw a poster for a Canadian national union displayed on the interior of the bus. She casually read the ad and punched in the website address on her phone. During the rest of the trip she read on the union website about things a union could do to help promote a sense of fairness and protect workersĂ˘â‚¬â„˘ rights. Tara sent her phone number and e-mail to the unionĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s web address contact listing. On Saturday afternoon, Tara received a call from Jo Souma, who identified herself as a union organizer with the WorkersĂ˘â‚¬â„˘ League of Canada (WLC). After asking Tara a number of questions about her work and other complaints she had heard from her peers, Jo invited Tara to meet her for coffee that Sunday afternoon to talk about work and answer any of her questions about unions.
Following the Sunday meeting between Jo and Tara, it was agreed that Tara would invite several of her friends at work, who also had complaints or at least were somewhat dissatisfied with plant management, to a meeting the following Thursday at a local pub. Over beer and wings, Jo listened carefully to what each of TaraĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s work colleagues said and responded at the end of their comments with a point-by-point summary of how the WLC could help their situationsĂ˘â‚¬â€ťbetter benefits, improved vacations, seniority credits for job postings and improved health and safety practices, particularly in the assembly line areas. At the end of the night, Joan pulled Tara aside and asked her to get those who she thought would support a union to sign membership cards during breaks or lunch hours in the coming week.
Tara started at her reassigned job on the following Monday. She was certainly motivated to carry out JoĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s assignment and by Wednesday had over 15 of the 30 employees in the assembly line division signed up. Stan Fisher had kept his eye on Tara since Monday to see how she was adjusting to her re-assigned job. He noticed that she did have an unusually larger group of other employees sitting with her during breaks and at lunch time. On Wednesday afternoon, after Tara and four other workers left the break room, Stan walked over to the table where they had been sitting and noted an orange 5 * 7 card on the floor. Picking it up, he saw that it was a union application card that was not signed. He immediately took the card to the plant managerĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s office. Wes Fiers, the plant manager, was angry with the news and evidence that Stan presented. He questioned Stan on what he knew about this threat and who was behind it. Stan mentioned Tara and the names of those he saw in the break room that day. Stan was directed to have all of these employees called to a meeting in FiersĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s office before the end of the shift.
The nervous group of employees filed into the plant managerĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s office at 2:45 PM. Stan closed the door and Fiers began by informing the gathered employees that he had evidence that workers in his plant were attempting to join a union. At first, he expressed disappointment of learning about this in the manner that he did, saying he always kept an Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“open doorĂ˘â‚¬Âť policy with all of his employees. Fiers then raised his voice and said a union was never going to enter the plant while he was in charge. He pulled out the unsigned union card, tore it in half and threw it in the waste basket beside his desk. He ranted about the Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“empty promisesĂ˘â‚¬Âť unions always make in such cases and in the end a union would only increase the risk of the company going under in what was a very competitive auto supply sector. Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“Think carefully about your future,Ă˘â‚¬Âť Fiers hissed as the employees filed out of his office. Stan pulled Tara aside and asked her to stay for a minute. When all of the employees had left, she was asked to take a seat. Fiers sat behind his desk and nodded at Stan. The assistant manager turned to Tara and informed her that a decision had been made earlier in the week to reduce staffing in the assembly division and he regretted to inform her that her job was eliminated. He said she would be given pay-in-lieu of notice plus severance pay based on employment standards requirements. He said she should turn in her security badge and clean out her locker before leaving the plant. Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“That will be all,Ă˘â‚¬Âť said Fiers as Stan opened the office door.
Tara was stunned by the news. Although she had signed a union card and late yesterday turned it in along with more than a dozen cards from her fellow employees to the union organizer, she never thought it could lead to her losing her job. After cleaning out her locker, she made her way to the bus stop. While waiting for the next bus, she pulled out her phone and put in a call to Jo Souma.
- What evidence is there in the case that Fiers has interfered with the rights of the employees in this case?
- Looking at the legislation and Labour Relations Board information in your jurisdiction, set out arguments that could be made by the union before the Board against this employer for its actions against Tara Wieznetski.
- What outcome do you suspect regarding the employerĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s actions in this case?