The union understudy for this case is the United Steelworkers also referred to as The United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial, and Service Workers International Union. United Steelworkers is a general trade union with 1.2 million members and retirees within the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean. United Steelworkers was founded on the 22nd May 1942, through the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), and it is currently the largest industrial union in North America with its headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Union is determined to represent laborers and workers from nearly every industry that exists through fighting for better workplaces, better lives for everyone and a better world (). The union is also present in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Scotland, England, Mexico and various areas around the globe.
The organizational structure of the union is composed of a president and an international executive board. The current international president of the union is Leo W. Gerard who took office in 2001 and has after that brought over 300,000 new members through his leadership and vision since assuming office. The international executive board, on the other hand, consists of four international vice presidents, an international secretary-treasurer, national director for Canada and 13 district directors. The ultimate goal of the United Steelworkers is to create a social movement that will better the lives of all working persons by improving employee wages, benefits and healthier and safer place and working conditions to ensure justice and dignity on the job (). The United Steelworkers work in a number of industries which include Atomic, Chemical, Education, Energy and Utilities, GMP Council: Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics and Allied Workers, Health Care, Manufacturing, Metals (steels, aluminum, etc.), Mining, Oil and Petroleum, paper and Forestry, Pharmacies and Pharmaceuticals, Public Employees, Rubber (tires, etc.), Transportation, and Varied Workplaces just to mention but a few.
The united steelworkers have been involved in a couple of legal disputes in the past 10-15 years and three of them to be discussed include the Kaiser Aluminum and United Steelworkers dispute, United Steelworkers of America v. Cooper-Standard Automotive and United Steelworkers v. Shell Oil.
Kaiser Aluminum and United Steelworkers Dispute
The parties in this dispute are the Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corporation, a producer of aluminum and fabricated aluminum product for domestic and international markets and the United Steelworkers of America. Initially, the Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corporation and the United Steelworkers of America had only one bargaining round which eventually led to a 2-year work stoppage which later on after negotiations, a prolonged and almost intractable labor dispute arose. The dispute was as a result of issues ranging from wages and benefits to contracting out of bargaining unit work. Upon unsuccessful negotiation, the union went on a strike against Kaiser a month after formal bargaining began. After the strike, the company resorted to seeking mediatory services from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services (FMCS). As a result of not reaching an agreement, arbitration took place which saw the two parties reach an agreement, the arbitration award.
In the arbitration award consisted of six categories in which the arbitration panel found two categories in favor of the company while the remaining four categories in favor of the company. The categories include Economics (wage-related issues) Retiree health insurance issues (such as duration of the agreement and custodial care), Department scheduling issues at the company’s Mead plant, An increase in layoff benefits for 30 smelter workers, Return to work issues (for example, recharging of the depleted supplemental unemployment benefit fund), Contract language (pay for union officials and overtime bypass penalties (). The union only had favor in retiree health insurance and contract language.
United Steelworkers of America v. Cooper-Standard Automotive
The parties to this legal dispute were the Cooper-Standard Automotive Group, manufacturers of automotive parts, and the United Steelworks. The dispute was a misunderstanding of the language of a sales contract that was not in compliance with the conditions of the successorship memoranda. The union had requested for expedited arbitration to interpret the contract language over which the company refused to abide by. As a result, the Steelworkers union filed a series of grievances in which the union requested the arbitrator to order Cooper Tire to refrain from either selling or to transfer the matters at stake until the union agrees with the potential buyer.
The plaintiff, the United Steelworkers union, filed their verified complaint about declaratory and injunctive relief against Cooper Tire. Despite the prohibition of federal courts to issue injunctions in labor disputes, there is a narrow exception that grants the court’s involvement to encourage voluntary resolution of labor disputes through arbitration. There was no particular adverse action from both parties about the labor dispute I discussion. In the arbitration award, the plaintiff’s motion for the preliminary injunction was granted while the defendant was ordered to participate in the expedited arbitration of the union’s grievances. Furthermore, the defendant was advised from closing on the sale contract not until the resolution of the union’s grievances through arbitration.
United Steelworkers v. Shell Oil
The parties involved were the members of the United Steelworkers and the Shell Oil Company. The United Steelworkers represented the oil refinery workers at four plants who were members of the union. The dispute arises from the oil companies continuing tendency of laying out employees at their refineries leaving the remaining workers with double work of those let go and toil longer hours (). Besides, wages and cost of medical insurance were key issues to the dispute. Consequently, the longer toiling hours led to fatigue jeopardizing the safety of the workers and the community and as if that is not enough, the company contracted inexperienced contractors to facilitate the work at the oil refineries.
The working conditions at an oil refinery are difficult and often dangerous which in turn forced the members of the United Steelworkers to go on a strike that lasted for six weeks before the members of the United Steelworks agreed with the oil refinery. The adverse action happened after an explosion at one of the BP refinery killed 15 workers and left approximately 200 employees injured due to negligence and violations of safety precautions. After subsequent weeks of striking by the oil refinery workers, members of the United Steelworkers, Shell Oil had to negotiate favorable terms with the union. The United Steelworkers union tabled a contract before the oil refinery for negotiation purposes. After a long duration of negotiation, the oil refinery bowed to the local union’s demands and agreed on a potential contract. The contract saw the oil refinery adhere to workplace safety for employees, staff more workers and abolished forced overtime.