YOU BE THE ARBITRATOR
1. The following incident actually happened at AT&T. Read and think about it.

     Mary is a senior operations clerk. She works in a  test room for an 
operations manager and coordinates administrative duties for the office. 
Her job requires working  with others in the office. She is responsible for 
processing vouchers and employee phone bills, answering the phone, 
making out time reports, maintaining the vacation schedule, forwarding 
payroll inquiries, and performing other duties related to office 
administration.
     Although Mary is considered an efficient worker, she has developed 
a reputation for being rude and uncooperative. Employees have complained 
that she is impossible to work with. On several occasions when her fellow 
employees have asked for information she has scolded them for asking 
such "dumb questions."
     Her appraisals in the past have been satisfactory in every category 
except "sense of cooperation." Her supervisor characterizes her as a good, 
productive worker on jobs that do not require contact with others. 
However, in her most recent appraisal she receives a "limited" in the 
category of "sense of cooperation." Her supervisor informs her that 
improvement is expected in this area or she could face discipline. Mary 
replies that if employees would stop asking so many stupid questions she 
wouldn't be so provoked. Her supervisor responds that answering inquiries 
is part of the job.
     A few days later a customer calls to complain about service. At the time, 
Mary was busy typing a report and she told the customer everyone in the 
office was busy, so call back later. When the customer later tracks down 
the operations manager, the customer complains about the rudeness of the 
clerk. Her supervisor asks Mary about the incident and she acknowledges 
the conversation but says she couldn't find anybody to talk to the customer. 
After making other inquiries, the supervisor finds that Mary made no effort 
to ask anyone in the office about assisting the customer. Consequently, 
the supervisor suspends Mary for three days for unsatisfactory job 
performance.
     In the following months a series of incidents were documented. 
Employees continued to complain that Mary was slow to respond to their 
questions. In one incident, a supplier was not paid promptly because 
Mary didn't like the supplier's agent. Mary was subsequently given two 
more suspensions and finally warned that unless her cooperation improved 
to a satisfactory level, she would be terminated. A few weeks later her 
supervisor asked her to update a time report. Mary said she was tired of 
making changes and if the supervisor wanted the change to make it 
himself.
     Mary was fired for poor work performance demonstrated by her 
repeated lack of cooperation  with others. Despite satisfactory performance 
in all other areas, Mary's continued lack of cooperation as unacceptable.
     The union contended in a grievance that Mary worked hard and knew 
her job and the company could not dismiss an employee for lack of 
cooperation when all other work performance categories were satisfactory.

2. This case went to an arbitrator who had to decide if Mary's dismissal 
   was with "just cause." If you were the arbitrator in this case, 
   how would you decide?

3. Share your decision with a nearby classmate. Discuss the reasons 
   for each of your decisions. Await further class discussion.

Refer to Chapter18-MANAGING LABOR-MANAGEMENT RELATIONS
for addition information.

  • Business 340 Syllabus

  • E-mail: Duane.Dove@sonoma.edu