BEFORE THE ARBITRATOR
In the Matter of the Arbitration of a Dispute Between
UAW INTERNATIONAL UNION, LOCAL
DIECAST OPERATIONS, TECUMSEH PRODUCTS
Murphy, Gillick, Wicht & Prachthauser, by Attorney George F.
Graf, appearing on behalf of the Union.
Foley & Lardner, by Attorney Stanley S. Jaspan, appearing on
behalf of the Company.
UAW International Union, Local 459, herein the Union, and Diecast Operations,
Products Company, herein the Company, requested the Wisconsin Employment Relations
Commission to designate the undersigned as an arbitrator to hear and to decide a dispute
the parties. The undersigned was designated as the arbitrator. Hearing was held in
Wisconsin, on September 27, 1999. Post-hearing briefs were exchanged on October 25,
The parties stipulated to the following issues:
Did the Company violate the collective bargaining agreement
discharging Tim Boldt?
If so, what is the appropriate remedy?
The Company produces aluminum diecastings for small engines used in lawnmowers
snowblowers. The Union represents approximately 260 production and maintenance
employes at the
Company's facility in Sheboygan Falls.
Tim Boldt, the grievant, had been employed by the Company for approximately
From May of 1998 until March 5, 1999, when he resigned, Boldt was President of Local
On March 10, 1999, Boldt was assigned to operate a diecast machine on the first
shift ran from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. By about 1:20 p.m. Boldt had finished 880 pieces,
the number of pieces expected for 8 hours of production assuming normal operations. He
to take a break, so he went to the bathroom and then to the lunchroom. Boldt had shut down
machine and had put a torch in it, so it was ready for the next shift. He did not tell a
he was going on break. At approximately 1:30 p.m., Boldt was seen in the lunchroom by
supervisor, James Den Boer. Den Boer assumed Boldt was on his 15-minute afternoon
About 2:00 p.m. Den Boer heard a relief employe paging Boldt. Den Boer went
lunchroom where he saw Boldt reading a book. When Den Boer asked what he was doing,
responded that he had made rate and had cleaned up his machine. Den Boer said that he had
the machine to the end of the shift and that he should return to his machine. Boldt said he
he could check the contract and Den Boer did not object. Den Boer did not recall that Boldt
anything about the contract. Den Boer followed Boldt as he went to his locker and got a
copy of the
contract. Boldt, followed by Den Boer, then went to the office of the Human Resources
Jack Schoemer. Schoemer was at a meeting and was not in his office. Boldt left the office.
after that, Den Boer left the office and went to Boldt's machine, but Boldt was not there.
then left the machine. Boldt testified that when he went to his machine, the machine needed
he went to get and that Den Boer was at the machine when he returned. However, both Den
and Sharon Temme, a Union Steward, testified that when Den Boer returned to the machine
minutes later, Boldt was there and was talking with Temme. The undersigned credits the
of Temme and Den Boer on this point. Den Boer told Boldt to start his machine.
Boldt said he
would not start the machine unless Den Boer signed a statement to the effect that Boldt
be terminated for making another shot, i.e., part. Den Boer refused to either write or sign
statement and told Boldt to start his machine. According to Den Boer, Boldt responded by
"That's the problem with you god damn supervisors, you don't do a god damn thing around
Boldt testified that he may have made such a statement. Den Boer again told Boldt to start
machine and that he could be fired if he did not. At this point, Temme advised Boldt that if
a grievance he could file it later and he could be terminated if he did not start the machine.
Boldt did not start his machine, Den Boer left the area to find O'Keefe. Temme repeated her
to Boldt. Boldt then began to run the machine.
Den Boer went to the Plant Superintendent, Dennis O'Keefe, and informed him of the
situation. O'Keefe instructed Den Boer to suspend Boldt. When Den Boer returned to the
Boldt's machine, he saw that Boldt had resumed running the machine. When that
given to O'Keefe, he instructed Den Boer to tell Boldt to shut down his machine and to
O'Keefe's office. After his first conversation with Den Boer, O'Keefe had been told by
the Production Control Manager, that, as he was walking down an aisle in the factory, he
who made loud and profane complaints about the supervisors. Boldt did report to O'Keefe's
In response to O'Keefe's questions, Boldt admitted that he had left his machine early without
permission. Boldt then complained about what he believed to be the Company's Union
tactics. O'Keefe suspended Boldt pending further investigation. Boldt asked if he should put
in his machine so the machine would remain in operable condition and O'Keefe said he
then left O'Keefe's office and, after putting the torch in the machine, he left the plant.
On March 12, while still on suspension, Boldt went to the plant to pick up his pay
While at the plant, Boldt told O'Keefe that he wanted to see a Union representative.
Boldt that he would not be allowed to see a Union representative because he was on
that he should leave the plant. Boldt repeated his request two more times and each time
him to leave the plant. O'Keefe had a clerical employe call the police. When told by
the police had been called, Boldt left the plant premises before the police arrived.
The Company terminated Boldt's employment effective March 19, 1999. Boldt
On January 26, 1999, the Company had issued a disciplinary notice to Boldt. The
contained the following statements:
This notice (revised) is issued because of your continued
improper actions which include
abusive and unacceptable conduct demonstrated during Union-Management grievance /
meetings; your continued use of profanities and obscenities during such meetings; your
shouting during such meetings; and at times your threats. These improper actions and
conduct have resulted in your being asked to leave such meetings and discussions with the
the necessary business at hand was not concluded in a respectful and professional manner,
good of all parties concerned and in the spirit of good labor-management relations.
To re-emphasize that stated in the original
notice (January 18, 1999), it is to be clearly
understood this is the final notice regarding this matter;
and any further demonstration of such
conduct on your part will result in your immediate termination.
POSITION OF THE UNION
The whole encounter between Den Boer and Boldt on March 10 was blown out of
proportion. When Boldt left his machine on March 10, he had exceeded his daily production
requirements and he felt he was entitled to shut down his machine. Also, he had a break
he had a sore arm. However, he was never allowed by either Den Boer or O'Keefe to offer
reasons. It was logical for Boldt to go to see Schoemer, since he wanted to find out about
precedent setting grievance to which Den Boer had referred. Boldt was neither belligerent
insubordinate when told he had to return to his machine. He was preparing to start his
getting the oil, when Den Boer arrived at the machine and began to harass him.
The minuscule use of profanity by Boldt should not be found to be sufficient to
discharge. Kalk could not understand what Boldt said and did not think anyone else heard
comments. While the words used by Boldt may not be socially acceptable, those words are
commonly used in the plant. Boldt's remarks were not a direct attack on any individual, but
were the comments of a frustrated employe. It appears the Company overreacted in the way
treated Boldt in its zeal to punish him for the militant stances he took as Union President and
him an example. O'Keefe made no effort to investigate Den Boer's totally unfounded claim
Boldt was shouting and using profanity on March 10. Neither did O'Keefe give Boldt a
explain what had really taken place. Instead, he jumped the gun and suspended Boldt.
O'Keefe's actions on March 12 are also irresponsible. Boldt was not making a scene
disrupting Company operations. He simply made a reasonable request to see a Union official
give the Union some information on his grievance.
Boldt should be reinstated and made whole for any losses suffered as a result of the
Company's improper actions.
POSITION OF THE COMPANY
The Company had just cause to discharge Boldt. His conduct on March 10 was
First, he walked off the job. While his shift was not scheduled to end until 3:00 p.m.
and he was
entitled to only one break in the afternoon, at 1:20 p.m. he shut down his machine, cleaned
readied his machine for the next shift, and left his work area without making any effort to
supervisor. Then he went to the lunchroom and began reading a book. When Den Boer
40 minutes later, Boldt claimed that he had a right to stop working because he had made
employes are not paid on an incentive basis. Boldt admitted that he had never heard of any
leaving his work station upon making rate and that he had never done so previously.
When Den Boer directed him to return to work, Boldt instead insisted on going to
Schoemer's office. Later he confronted Kalk with vulgarity.
When Boldt did return to his work station, he refused to start his machine until
provided him with a written statement. When Den Boer refused to provide the statement,
responded with profanity. Even the intervention of a Union steward reminding Boldt that he
be discharged for insubordination did not immediately cause him to start his machine. Only
Boer left the area did Boldt start his machine.
Finally, on March 12, while he was still on suspension, Boldt again refused the
orders of O'Keefe to leave the building. Boldt acknowledged that he left the building only
learned that the police had been called.
While Boldt's conduct on March 10 and 12 certainly constituted grounds for
discharge without regard to any prior discipline, the final notice, given to him in January of
improper conduct, demonstrates that his conduct was not isolated, but rather, was a
conduct which he had been explicitly warned could lead to discharge.
The discharge should be sustained.
Paragraph 5. The regular and customary
functions of Management, such as . . . the right to hire,
suspend, or discharge for just cause, . . . are vested exclusively in the
Company subject to all other
provisions of the Agreement.
. . .
The Union asserts that Boldt's belief he was entitled to leave his machine before the
his shift after meeting the daily production requirement was not unfounded, as evidenced by
Boer's reference to an earlier grievance dealing with such a situation. However, Boldt
he had never shut down his machine early and left the work area when he had exceeded the
production requirements on prior occasions. He also admitted that he was not aware of such
action being done by any other employes. Boldt further testified that he had not been
prior occasions when he either exceeded, or failed to make, the
daily production requirements. If Den Boer did refer to an earlier grievance, it is clear
that Boldt was
not aware of such a grievance at the time he shut down his machine early on
March 10. The
undersigned concludes that Boldt did not have a reasonable basis for deciding to shut down
machine on March 10.
Boldt also played a delaying game with Den Boer. When told by Den Boer to leave
lunchroom and return to his machine, Boldt instead insisted on going to see Schoemer first.
prudent approach would have been to return to his machine and go to see Schoemer after his
ended. Upon learning that Schoemer was not in his office, Den Boer again directed Boldt to
to his machine. However, Boldt was not at his machine when Den Boer arrived at the
Although it is possible that Boldt had to go and get oil for the machine before he started it,
of his other behavior, even that excuse for being away from the machine is suspect.
The Union asserts that Boldt complied at once when Den Boer, in the presence of
directed him to start his machine. That assertion is in conflict with the testimony of Den
and Temme. Initially Boldt refused to start his machine until Den Boer gave him a written
There is nothing in the evidence to show that such a written statement had ever been
given either to Boldt or any other employe in the past. Boldt admitted that he had never
such a statement previously. When Den Boer refused to provide such a statement, Boldt
made a loud
and profane response. Both Boldt's request for the statement and his response to the refusal
totally inappropriate. Boldt then continued to fail to start his machine even after Den Boer
directed him to do so and said he could be fired if he didn't start the machine. At that point
also told Boldt he could be terminated if he failed to start the machine and, if he had a
could file it later. Boldt still did not start the machine. Den Boer then left the area to go see
O'Keefe. After Temme again advised Boldt that he could be fired if he did not run the
finally did start the machine.
The undersigned concludes that Boldt's failure to comply with a direct order from
gave the Company just cause to discharge him for his conduct on March 10, even if the
involving Boldt and Kalk is not considered. Contrary to the Union's assertion, Kalk testified
did understand what Boldt said, although he had no idea what Boldt was talking about.
outburst to Kalk was not acceptable behavior, even if Kalk was the only person who heard it.
The Union also contends that O'Keefe never gave Boldt a chance to explain what had
place. Boldt testified that in response to O'Keefe's questions, he stated that he thought he
right and that he talked about the Company's Union busting tactics and also about his family.
concluded that Boldt had an opportunity to give his explanation of what had occurred, but
chose to give responses dealing with other topics. Thus, O'Keefe did not jump the gun and
prematurely suspend Boldt. At no time on March 10 did Boldt attempt to tell
either Den Boer or O'Keefe about a sore arm. If he indeed had a sore arm, then he
reported that condition to a supervisor before shutting down his machine. Boldt also
he had never seen a physician about a sore arm. Thus, there are no medical records to
assertion about his arm.
On March 12, Boldt's initial request of O'Keefe that he be allowed to see a Union
representative was not unreasonable. However, when O'Keefe refused his request, Boldt
left the plant premises as instructed by O'Keefe. His continued requests were inappropriate.
the Company had just cause to discharge Boldt based solely on his conduct on March 10, his
on March 12 did not provide the Company with any incentive to impose a less severe form
The disciplinary notice Boldt had received in January of 1999 was based in part on
continued shouting and use of profane language. Such conduct, although in a different
labor-management meetings, was exhibited again on March 10. Boldt was not a long-term
with an unblemished record, which factors would support a reduction of the discharge to a
form of discipline.
The record fails to support the Union's allegation that the Company's treatment of
taken either to punish him for the militant stands he took while he was the Union President,
bust the Union. As discussed above, Boldt's conduct provided the Company with just cause
discharge, as would have been the case with any other employe.
Based on the foregoing, the undersigned enters the following
That the Company had just cause to discharge Tim Boldt; that the discharge did not
the collective bargaining agreement; and, that the grievance is denied and dismissed.
Dated at Madison, Wisconsin, this 24th day of November, 1999.
Douglas V. Knudson, Arbitrator