Tuesday, June 3, 2008

UAW Files Complaint on Universal Smoking Ban at Caterpillar

Cigarette In response to Caterpillar banning smoking on all of its US properties, effective June 1, the United Autoworkers (UAW) has filed a complaint with the NLRB.  As the Chicago Tribune points out, the issue is whether  the workers' right to smoke has been part of the sixty-year old bargaining agreement and that the company needs to bargain with the union over the work-rule change.

"Caterpillar labor relations manager Dan Day said in a statement that the company 'cares about the health of its employees and wants to ensure that everyone who works on or visits Caterpillar property has access to the healthiest and safest work environment possible.'"

Regardless of the motives of Caterpillar in undertaking this initiative, I would say the issue of smoking in the workplace affects the terms and conditions between employer and employee and should be considered a mandatory subject of bargaining, wouldn't you?



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A ban on smoking constitutes a work rule, and, therefore it's a mandatory subject of bargaining. But the Company gave plenty of advance notice prior to the implementation date, so it's not clear whether the Company unlawfully failed or refused to bargain. In any case, this charge is ripe for deferral to the grievance-arbitration procedure, so an arbitrator will be deciding this in the first instance.

Posted by: Tom Trachsel | Jun 3, 2008 10:30:19 AM

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