Local Union Representative’s first arbitration ends in big win for member

July 9, 2020 - The Local Union received a favourable arbitration award on June 29, 2020, reinstating a terminated member, in a case led by one of our Local Union Representatives, Tamara Marshall. The Local’s past practice has been that lawyers represented union members at arbitrations, but Local 1944’s Local Union Representatives have now been trained so that they can represent our members instead.

“Tamara is the second Local Union Representative from Local 1944 to have arbitrated a case as first chair/counsel for a member, and the first to have WON,” said Donna Hokiro, Acting President of USW Local 1944. “This shows that our new system of having Local Union Representatives take on cases instead of lawyers works. Sister Marshall’s win is a big deal, an absolute outstanding feat for our Local Union. Especially when you consider all of the money and power behind the company’s lawyer, and yet we won, this is no small thing. Great work Tamara, thank you for your advocacy.”

Termination grievance

Local 1944 grieved the termination of a member in February 2019 for chronic tardiness. The Local Union took the position that the member’s tardiness was not culpable and that her termination was excessive discipline. The arbitrator accepted the Local Union’s position:

“The Grievor is a very senior employee of almost 29 years’ service, well-liked by her peers, with a good performance record, save and except for her tardiness and some absences. […] she has spent most of her working life in service to the Employer. The penalty imposed may create severe economic hardship for her.” 

The arbitrator allowed the grievance, and the member returned to work on July 6.

Behind the scenes: The work put into an arbitration 

Sister Tamara Marshall has been a Local Union Representative for 14 years. She has been to many arbitrations and learned from being involved and working with legal counsel. Preparing an arbitration implies researching case law and preparing it, meeting with the grievor, having numerous calls with the employer’s legal counsel, and attending several prehearing conferences with the company’s legal counsel and the arbitrator.

“Arbitrations for Local 1944 up until now have had legal counsel on both sides so I was a layperson against a lawyer with all their resources,” said Tamara Marshall.

“I understand that a company always has a business to run, but I think they can do more to recognise that employees are people with emotions and troubles in life,” she said. “This is why to be able to help someone have life return to normal and finish off their career is amazing. Helping members is the best and most rewarding part of my job and has always been the reason I am a Local Union Rep.”

This arbitration also involved the work of Acting President Donna Hokiro, Administrator Omero Landi, and Shop Steward Michelle Dey.

Together, we win!

In Solidarity, 

USW Local 1944