A member of Teamsters Local 355 who is a driver with the Baltimore Sun newspaper has been awarded back pay after a lengthy arbitration.
Donald Liggins, a member of Local 355 in Baltimore, has been a fleet driver for the Baltimore Sun newspaper since 1991. However, in November, 2009, Liggins was terminated following a three-month investigation into the cause of a July accident in which Liggins was seriously injured and a company fleet truck was significantly damaged.
After nearly two years, in April 2012 Liggins was returned to work after an arbitrator ruled the company had failed to prove just cause when it terminated him for “gross negligence of duty and willfull misconduct.” Also part of the decision was full retroactive pay back to the date of Liggins’ termination.
Although the company did put Liggins back to work it refused to pay the back wages, citing contract language it interpreted as allowing it to hold an employee financially responsible for damages incurred as a result of a preventable accident.
The Local filed suit in federal court to force payment. Finally, a little more than four years after his termination, Liggins received his back pay.
“I wouldn’t have gotten through this with- out my faith that God would see me – all of us – through this. I was down to the bare bones,” said Liggins, referring to the financial strain on “the long road to justice”.
“Jimmy Deene (business agent at Local 355) worked tirelessly on my case because it wasn’t just important for me to win the case, it was important for all my union brothers and sisters. We had to win. An outcome for the company would impact others down the road.”
“Being a member of this union is the best thing a worker can do for himself. I learned a great deal during this process about how the union and the company operate, and how the legal system works in the labor-management arena.
“I want to extend my sincere thanks to Denis Taylor, Jimmy, any other business agents who helped, and my shop stewards who were there for me throughout the process. Most important, I want to thank my union brothers and sisters who supported me."