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Arbitrator Knowlton posits that fairness requires the evolution of the concept of just cause to take into account the contemporary circumstances of workers, who increasingly lack a familial safety net.

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The article examines 78 arbitration decisions that weigh the employer’s right to discipline for absenteeism against the employee’s family care-giving responsibilities. It places such absences in demographic context; examines when lack of child care is treated as a legitimate excuse for absence, describes communication problems regarding work-family conflicts; assesses the assumption that employer responsiveness to …

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Threats and violence in the workplace

The article describes a 7-step plan for reducing the risk of threats and violence in the workplace

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The author describes the dilemmas posed by potentially dangerous employees, and proposes measures that can be taken to address and remedy the dangers. Recommendations are given for the approach arbitrators might take. The Post Office shooting at Royal Oak, Michigan is analyzed.

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Violence in the workplace: Prevention strategies

A three-part approach is recommended as the best strategy to prevent violence: 1) pre-incident training, 2) stress-management interventions, and 3) employee victim debriefing. Warning signs of potential violent behavior, and calming methodologies are described. Comment is offered regarding the implications for the arbitrator of measures taken by management to avoid workplace violence, and how to …

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Conflicts arising out of work force diversity

A review of the anti-discrimination laws and their application by the Courts. Arbitrators are advised to educate themselves with the requirements of the statutes, and not rely on the parties to do so. Measures that should be taken to ensure compliance with public law are enumerated. Attorney Gibbs gives a labor perspective.

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Professor Rentfro proffers that evolving societal values are reflected in the workplace: sexual harassment cases; drug and alcohol cases (and employee assistance programs); and a breakdown in the social contract that has led to federal rights legislation and employer-promulgated arbitration. Greater emphasis is being placed on the commitments and responsibilities of each party and greater …

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Drug-testing disputes

A review of litigation over random and “reasonable suspicion” drug testing. The scientific and technical issues in drug-testing arbitration disputes are explored.

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The author, former International President of the UAW, proposes that the unions that are on the right course are those with leadership and membership that recognize the necessity and inevitability of change. He discusses various novel voluntary programs in the auto industry, such as labor-management cooperation, which give workers a greater voice in the decision-making …

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Just cause and the troubled employee

A discussion of whether, in assessing the appropriateness of discipline or discharge, arbitrators should take into account “distractions” (such as the employee’s marital, family, financial or legal problems) that cause misconduct or unsatisfactory job performance. Arbitral treatment of alcoholic, drug-addicted, and mentally ill employees is examined. Observations are drawn from cases reported in volumes 70 …

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