The following was contributed by David Imlay, a Local 205 union steward and executive board officer who works as an instructor at Lincoln College of Technology.
Back in April, the Union’s leadership was summoned to our Director’s office for an unscheduled meeting with Management—something we suspected was probably not good news.
We learned that the company would be reducing the workforce by six positions, which included four Union members.
A meeting was scheduled the next day with the Membership to notify them, however Management would not give the Union the names or positions of those being laid-off. Per our contract, management must give two weeks’ notice of layoffs, however, it does not state that the company must identify which positions.
We continued to press Management for the layoff list over the next two weeks, but they refused, and at one point even asked us to provide them with a list of persons they should lay off!
While the Union leadership felt that this request put us in a difficult position, the request itself provided us with a possible solution.
We began contacting Union members who had accrued lots of hours of paid time off. After consulting with these members, we waited until the two weeks was about to pass—forcing Management to notify members being laid off.
As soon as the first notice went out, we notified Management that ten senior members were going to begin taking Paid Time Off, and that those four junior members would be needed to cover the now-empty assignments (it should be noted that every Union member we talked to volunteered to take time off). Two members volunteered to take no-pay days and many more took paid time off.
Management objected, stating that a workable schedule could not be produced with so many moving parts.
We then produced our own version of a work schedule to show Management that our idea could work. At this point the company agreed to “give it a try.” As of this writing, no one has been laid off. As a point of interest, one new position has just been added due to the retirement of one of those senior members and a record amount of overtime needed to cover the assigned workload. The month of April was a difficult time for everyone at Lincoln, however this serves as a reminder of what we can do when we fight for jobs with creative solutions.