Things to remember when firing a union leader

By Lorna Harris
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 09/04/2003

Companies are often faced with the task of disciplining employees who are also union officials. At first glance there would seem to be little need to treat cases involving union officials any differently than those involving regular employees; a closer look at arbitration disputes reveals this is not always the case.

In some situations, union officials are held to a higher standard than ordinary employees; in others, the rules appear to be applied less rigourously for union officials.

In two recent cases, employees who were also union officials had been discharged from employment. At arbitration, one of the grievances over termination was dismissed and the employee’s discharge was upheld, while in the other case the grievor’s penalty was reduced in severity to a suspension. The question for employers is: when is discharge an appropriate punishment for a union official and when is it an unsuitable penalty?