In Trenton, N.J., drivers at an XPO Logistics freight facility voted in favor of forming their union with the Teamsters. The drivers are currently negotiating a contract. However, despite not having a completed contract yet, the workers and negotiators were able to set an essential process in place–an interim grievance process.
The interim grievance process provides a systematic, legal avenue for workers to raise their complaint and challenge that complaint through a detailed process (much like a court system), without fear of repercussions from their employer. It’s also a way to uncover any unlawful, unethical, unfair or unacceptable practices within the company–much like what XPO did to one worker, Bruce Ryan.
In December 2018, XPO management approved Ryan’s leave request for a two week period over Christmas and returning to work after the New Year in 2019. However, two days after Christmas, Ryan’s wife needed to undergo surgery and treatment that was more intense than they expected, so Ryan called and explained to his managers the new situation and requested additional time off which was granted.
Ryan continued to call and update his mangers every day, and the managers continued to approve the extension of his leave. But, when Ryan received his paycheck, he noticed that he didn’t receive holiday pay despite XPO approving the time. Ryan followed his procedure and addressed the holiday pay issue with his manager who said that he, in fact, did put in for Ryan’s holiday pay and that XPO’s regional human resource (HR) manager also approved it.
However, XPO’s head of HR denied Ryan’s request, leaving him without any of his holiday pay. That’s when Ryan decided to call his Teamster business agent and file a grievance against XPO. The process was followed by Ryan when he felt he had been wronged by not getting his holiday pay. The business agent served as Ryan’s representation and presented the grievance to XPO, proving that their decision to not provide his holiday pay was incorrect and unlawful. One week later, XPO awarded Ryan with his back pay.
If it were not for Ryan and his co-workers voting to become a union and setting an interim grievance process in place, the end to his story would be far different. With union representation, legality, due process and legitimacy become the norm when dealing with your company. A worker with a grievance procedure, like the unionized XPO facilities have, has legal recourse when wronged and a process in which to be heard and a fair way to obtain a final decision. This is just one example that shows the difference between union and nonunion.
“I am proof that unions work. And unions protect workers,” Ryan said.