With the help of Local 117’s Senior Staff Attorney, Dan Swedlow, Teamster Shuttlers at Hertz have won an important arbitration that sends an unequivocal message to employers who attempt to violate negotiated provisions of a collective bargaining agreement: Don’t tread on our contract!
Late last year, Hertz unilaterally implemented a policy that changed the rest break language that parties had negotiated in their collective bargaining agreement and imposed a requirement on Shuttlers to clock out for intermittent breaks. The company specifically targeted Muslim Shuttlers, who took their intermittent breaks to pray.
Ultimately, 27 workers were terminated by the company when they refused to comply with the new policy.
The Union rallied behind the workers, organizing a solidarity action at the airport, and filing multiple Unfair Labor Practices charges and a grievance. The affected Shuttlers also filed complaints with the EEOC and a discrimination lawsuit against the company.
The grievance went to arbitration on March 28. At the arbitration hearing, Swedlow argued that the company’s unilateral change to the break policy represented a violation of its collective bargaining agreement.
The arbitrator agreed, ruling that, in implementing the new policy, Hertz “ignored the contract procedures” and committed a “violation of agreed-upon contract language.”
A second arbitrator will now decide whether the company violated the “just cause” provision of the workers’ contract when it terminated them for refusing to comply with a policy that conflicts with the protections guaranteed by their labor agreement and when it did not progressively discipline the Shuttlers.
“This ruling demonstrates the strength of our collective bargaining agreements. Our collective bargaining agreements guarantee negotiated protections for our members. Employers need to know that we will hold them to their contractual commitments,” said Local 117 Secretary-Treasurer Tracey A. Thompson.
Stay tuned for more news as it develops in the case.