Worker can’t benefit from mysterious shift transfer

November 23, 2016

Employment Law BookNo contract violation occurred when the employer transferred the grievant back to his original shift.

The city of Hartford, Connecticut reclassified a worker from Motor Sweeper Operator to Maintainer IV and assigned him to the third shift, which provided a seven-percent wage differential.

Ultimately, he moved to the first shift but retained the differential.

He filed a grievance after being returned to the third shift when another maintainer IV took a leave of absence.

City of Hartford, CT and AFSCME, Council 4, Local 171-6, 45 LAIS 23, 2016 WL 3517606.

The union argued that the grievant should have been permitted to reject the transfer because there was no “vacancy” or “opening” as defined by the labor agreement. Rather, once the other maintainer returned from his leave of absence the grievant should have resumed his place on the first shift.

The city countered that “all evidence points to the fact that the grievant has been a third-shift employee all along and was, for reasons that are not credibly established, permitted to ‘jump’ seniority for two years and work on first shift. By restoring the grievant to the shift he should have been working all along, the city is complying with the language…requiring shift assignments based on seniority.”

(Westlaw users: Click here for the Labor Arbitration Information System.)

The arbitrator upheld the employer’s position, finding that the city “cast substantial doubt” on the legitimacy of the grievant’s assignment to the first shift.

Specifically, no documentation or witness testimony confirmed the transfer and the grievant continued to receive the wage differential, which suggested that management viewed him as being assigned to the third shift.

Concluding that the city had the right to correct an assignment if it violated the labor agreement and that an employee “is not bequeathed with the position simply because he prefers it,” the arbitrator denied the grievance.