Jerry McCrummen - Vice President

Contract Unrecognizable -

I wanted to write about what I consider a misuse of authority and power by the company. The management rights are strong in the current CBA. Article 2, Paragraph D states, “The right to manage and direct the work force, subject to the provisions of this agreement, [emphasis added] is vested in and retained by the company.” SWA is very good at quoting the first part of the sentence but tends to forget the second part: that they have to follow the contract. Too many times a manager in absentia decides it is his little fiefdom or kingdom, complete with indentured servants and mindless minions. It appears that the management has the mindset that “I can and I will make my own rules.” I would like to give you an example of this abuse of power that has become really personal with me.
I am currently in the process of presenting system boards for 11 agents that were terminated for insubordination in MDW. The MDW management team with the support, guidance and direction from Employee Resources (now that is a misnomer) determined that they had an excessive amount of sick calls on Friday June 29th (July 4th was on Wednesday) and in an effort to threaten, coerce and intimidate the agents, decided that they would misapply a portion of the contract and require them to go to a company doctor. For various, in my opinion, valid reasons they did not or could not go to the designated doctor. Eight of the agents went to a clinic or an emergency room at the hospital where they were subsequently taken off work. Two of them due to their illness, the company failing to provide transportation, and fear for their safety did not go. The last agent gave the company a heads up at 0500 that he was going to use his NCO and go home after four hours. He was told to see the supervisor prior to leaving and get paperwork to take to the doctor. At 10 or 15 minutes to 0900 he went to the admin supervisor, and the supervisor refused to stop eating at his desk and give him the paperwork (remember their kingdom, their rules). At 0902 he punched out and left. The supervisor called him at home and told him that it would be insubordination if he did not go to the designated doctor. He asked for transportation and was refused by the supervisor. Let’s look at the reasons behind the decision by the company to send them to a company doctor.
They did have a lot of sick calls on that Friday and the station had a knee jerk reaction and enacted their directive. Why was it necessary? Funny you should ask. It was in the middle of the record setting heat wave in Chicago. People were dropping like flies due to dehydration and heat exhaustion. It was hard enough to work a normal eight hour shift and they were being mandatoried to work doubles due to the staffing issues that MDW created. The company could not fill the 21 part time shifts so there were already that many open shifts. There were over 60 overtime shifts to be covered due to open shifts, injuries and vacations.
Why are there so many open shifts? I am looking for a job. I have a couple of choices. I can work at the mall or McDonald’s in the air conditioning, have weekends off, and make $10 an hour. My other choice:I can work nights, holidays and weekends, while lifting heavy bags as a result of a “Bags Fly Free” (on me) program, be mandatoried because the company cannot or will not staff properly. When I was young I was not looking at the long term benefits. I was looking to see what I bring home to enjoy life. I did not live to work. Instead, I worked to live. Wait. I get flight benefits? When was the last time you tried to non-rev as a family? My health benefits are being lessened or cut every year, while my cost or share continues to rise. If I am not mistaken we are making record profits in spite of the fuel hedging fiasco that we are continuing to pay for. There is absolutely no reason to increase the cost of the insurance except for “corporate greed.”
While investigating these grievances I have come to know these agents personally. I have met some of their spouses and kids. I have heard the stories and seen the disbelief in their faces. Two of them have been blessed with babies since their termination. I will do everything within my power to make the company pay for their transgressions. I am not objective about the company’s actions or decisions. The insubordination finding is ludicrous and, if not so damaging, would be ridiculous and laughable. By the way, the company challenged all the agents’ unemployment benefits and the State of Illinois has ruled against them. The State of Illinois has determined that they qualify for benefits due to the company’s findings of insubordination. I am living this nightmare along with my brothers and sisters from MDW. If the company tries to enact this requirement in other stations or again in MDW, require them to provide transportation or send an ambulance due to your illness and the possible safety concerns. Protect yourself and stay united and supportive of each other. Take care of each other; work safe and be safe! God bless each of you and keep the MDW 11 in your thoughts and prayers.