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Old 05-09-2015, 07:54   #1
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Defender warehouse workers on strike

The Day - Defender Industries warehouse workers on strike - News from southeastern Connecticut

Defender Industries warehouse workers on strike

Published September 04. 2015 3:10PM
Updated September 04. 2015 3:24PM
By Lee Howard


Waterford About 30 unionized warehouse workers at Defender Industries went out on strike Friday to complain about what they called unfair disciplinary policies.
Workers, who said they have been without a contract since they voted 24-7 to join Teamsters Local 493 last November, lined up outside the main entrance of the boat-supply store waving signs that read "To Err is Human." Some people turned away from the store to support the union cause, and strikers encouraged customers to go to a West Marine outlet instead.
"It's not a comfortable place to work," said Tim Schlesser of Groton, a nine-year Defender employee who has been the main union negotiator. "They don't appreciate their workers."
A Defender spokesman said the company would have no comment about the strike.
Workers are complaining about a disciplinary policy that they say has led to about a dozen firings at the warehouse since the union took over. This compares to only two firings in the previous two years, they said.
The complaints revolve around a policy that they say is too restrictive, leading to good workers being disciplined for minor mistakes even if those errors don't make it out of the warehouse. Errors are compiled every time they happen and can only be wiped out by six months of mistake-free work, workers said.
Randall Bryant of Waterford said he was just suspended for one week without pay for a packing error that involved putting one extra small item into a shipping box.
"I'm almost out the door," he said. "If I have one more error, I'm fired."
Suspension occurs with the fifth error, and a sixth mistake means automatic firing, union members said. Workers have tried to compromise with the company to develop a different disciplinary system that might forgive errors discovered by quality control or grade errors based on seriousness, but union members said the company won't budge on its policy.
Workers said they think the company has started enforcing its disciplinary policy more strictly in an attempt to oust the union, and turnover has been high since November. They added that it has been nearly a year since the union was voted in but the company has made little progress in negotiating a contract that pays $11.50 to start and $13.05 for senior workers.
Union member Dave Avery of Killingly said Defender has been using office workers to staff the warehouse, and a few workers crossed union lines because of special situations. He added that the shipping company UPS's Teamster workers have been honoring the strike but Defender has been talking to FedEx to make sure shipments can continue to be sent out to customers.
The union voted Thursday night to strike at a meeting at the Clarion Inn in New London. It is unclear how long the strike will last, but workers said they were willing to stay out as long as it takes to make the company come around and negotiate in good faith.
"It's like a family all of us care," said union negotiator Schlesser. "We're going to get through this."
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Old 05-09-2015, 08:28   #2
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Re: Defender warehouse workers on strike

looks like they get 6 chances before being let go, way more than at the company I work for.
When I order from Defender, I do expect my order is correct and always has been.
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Old 05-09-2015, 09:08   #3
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Re: Defender warehouse workers on strike

Is it a right to work state? If so, fire the whole lot of them and start over with people who want to work.

As soon as they unionized the rules had to be enforced with no exception. Before the union they could make individual decisions based on each incident.


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Old 05-09-2015, 09:21   #4
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Re: Defender warehouse workers on strike

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Originally Posted by amytom View Post
Is it a right to work state? If so, fire the whole lot of them and start over with people who want to work.

As soon as they unionized the rules had to be enforced with no exception. Before the union they could make individual decisions based on each incident.


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Wrong! Failing to consistently apply work rules is great grounds for a law suit.

I averaged 1/2 a grievance a year for most of the 29 years I was a supervisor/manager/superintendent---- and am pro-union.

Management has clear rights. One of them is to ensure that only one $1,000 part is packed in a box! But workers need to know what is expected of them also.

Need to know all the facts before making rash statements.



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Old 05-09-2015, 10:01   #5
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Re: Defender warehouse workers on strike

Don't want to argue, you're right, it was a rash statement and I don't know all of the facts.
My personal experience has been that the companies I've worked around the have unionized they fail because of it. Not all companies, but the ones that I've been around.
I enjoy a right to work state where the only one responsible for keeping me employed is me and my work habits. If I made a mistake a month i'd have been fired years ago.


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Old 05-09-2015, 10:22   #6
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Re: Defender warehouse workers on strike

Seems that "Right to Work" has now morphed into "Ability by Management to Abuse Its Own Workers."

"Right to Work" is an oxymoron, and is about as good as OUR freedoms that were taken away by the "Patriot Act."
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Old 05-09-2015, 10:42   #7
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Re: Defender warehouse workers on strike

It's interesting that it's called a "Right to Work" state, when it really means an employer can fire anyone, at anytime, without cause.

1984 newspeak.




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Old 05-09-2015, 10:48   #8
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Re: Defender warehouse workers on strike

One word to solve this issue and fire all of them:

Robots.

https://www.amazonrobotics.com/#/

(managers too)
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Old 05-09-2015, 11:53   #9
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Re: Defender warehouse workers on strike

Yup. Fire the union and replace all the workers. Don't need to be a right to work state to do that. Defender's competitive advantage in this market is their low prices. Keep a high priced union in place and they are sure to fail.
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Old 05-09-2015, 12:43   #10
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Re: Defender warehouse workers on strike

I don't know that paying a union employee between 11$ and 13$ hr, plus maintaining the edge of not running brick and mortar stores will hurt their competitive edge all that much, the two warehouse workers I know both make 15hr.

As far as a six strike you're out policy being fair, that depends upon the overall shipping numbers. If that works out to 20% of their shipments, I'd say fire them, if it works out to >1%, it's an unfair policy.


Sounds more like A potential case of retaliation to me, we'll have to wait and see what comes out though.

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Old 05-09-2015, 12:47   #11
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Re: Defender warehouse workers on strike

Quote:
Originally Posted by SaltyMonkey View Post
One word to solve this issue and fire all of them:

Robots.

https://www.amazonrobotics.com/#/

(managers too)
That's exactly right. The reality is that once this technology gets cheap, they will likely be let go anyway.

Why is Defender managing their distribution anyhow? Sub it out to a distributor such as Amazon and get rid of the whole warehouse.

A company the size of defender mail-warehouse doesn't need more than 5 employees anymore.

- z
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Old 05-09-2015, 13:14   #12
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Re: Defender warehouse workers on strike

Quote:
Originally Posted by jibstay View Post
It's interesting that it's called a "Right to Work" state, when it really means an employer can fire anyone, at anytime, without cause.

1984 newspeak.




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Right to work means no one else comes between me and my employer. If he's happy with my work I keep working. If he's not happy that means I messed up. He's happy to keep me and pay me well because I work hard and don't complain. It would be expensive to replace me and train someone else from scratch.


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Old 05-09-2015, 14:01   #13
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Re: Defender warehouse workers on strike

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cormorant View Post
The Day - Defender Industries warehouse workers on strike - News from southeastern Connecticut

Defender Industries warehouse workers on strike

Published September 04. 2015 3:10PM
Updated September 04. 2015 3:24PM
By Lee Howard


Waterford — About 30 unionized warehouse workers at Defender Industries went out on strike Friday to complain about what they called unfair disciplinary policies.
Workers, who said they have been without a contract since they voted 24-7 to join Teamsters Local 493 last November, lined up outside the main entrance of the boat-supply store waving signs that read "To Err is Human." Some people turned away from the store to support the union cause, and strikers encouraged customers to go to a West Marine outlet instead.
"It's not a comfortable place to work," said Tim Schlesser of Groton, a nine-year Defender employee who has been the main union negotiator. "They don't appreciate their workers."
A Defender spokesman said the company would have no comment about the strike.
Workers are complaining about a disciplinary policy that they say has led to about a dozen firings at the warehouse since the union took over. This compares to only two firings in the previous two years, they said.
The complaints revolve around a policy that they say is too restrictive, leading to good workers being disciplined for minor mistakes — even if those errors don't make it out of the warehouse. Errors are compiled every time they happen and can only be wiped out by six months of mistake-free work, workers said.
Randall Bryant of Waterford said he was just suspended for one week without pay for a packing error that involved putting one extra small item into a shipping box.
"I'm almost out the door," he said. "If I have one more error, I'm fired."
Suspension occurs with the fifth error, and a sixth mistake means automatic firing, union members said. Workers have tried to compromise with the company to develop a different disciplinary system that might forgive errors discovered by quality control or grade errors based on seriousness, but union members said the company won't budge on its policy.
Workers said they think the company has started enforcing its disciplinary policy more strictly in an attempt to oust the union, and turnover has been high since November. They added that it has been nearly a year since the union was voted in but the company has made little progress in negotiating a contract that pays $11.50 to start and $13.05 for senior workers.
Union member Dave Avery of Killingly said Defender has been using office workers to staff the warehouse, and a few workers crossed union lines because of special situations. He added that the shipping company UPS's Teamster workers have been honoring the strike but Defender has been talking to FedEx to make sure shipments can continue to be sent out to customers.
The union voted Thursday night to strike at a meeting at the Clarion Inn in New London. It is unclear how long the strike will last, but workers said they were willing to stay out as long as it takes to make the company come around and negotiate in good faith.
"It's like a family — all of us care," said union negotiator Schlesser. "We're going to get through this."
It's been my experience that most U.S. workers won't go to the trouble to unionize in the first place unless the conditions are pretty bad -- and they certainly don't take a decision to strike lightly.

Six "chances" may seem generous on the company's part, but imagine how many orders are being filled each day. All that for $13/hour (at best).
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Old 05-09-2015, 14:20   #14
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Re: Defender warehouse workers on strike

Quote:
Originally Posted by zboss View Post
Why is Defender managing their distribution anyhow? Sub it out to a distributor such as Amazon and get rid of the whole warehouse.

A company the size of defender mail-warehouse doesn't need more than 5 employees anymore.

- z
I'll bet Stephan Lance would get a hearty chuckle out of that one... ;-)

Hell, I'm not sure they could even exhibit at a boat show with only 5 employees...

Have you ever actually been to the store in Waterford?

As usual, there appears to be more than one side to this story...

http://www.theday.com/article/20140321/biz02/303219954
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Old 05-09-2015, 14:28   #15
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Re: Defender warehouse workers on strike

Quote:
My personal experience has been that the companies I've worked around the have unionized they fail because of it. Not all companies, but the ones that I've been around.
amytom, so, maybe it was YOU...not the union. I was never a union worker but I always knew that every right, every perk I had as a worker was because some union worker somewhere stood on the line. Many of them died just for standing up for their rights.
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