Legal Memorandum: Technological Changes on Job Stability

Issue: What opinions has Arbitrator Roberts expressed in earlier opinions concerning his approach to disputes involving the impact of technological change on job stability?

Area of Law: Employee Law
Keywords: Technological change on job stability; Disputes
Jurisdiction: Federal
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 02/01/2001

Like the Supreme Court, Arbitrator Roberts long ago acknowledged the impact of technological change on job stability.  By 1961, he had already had observed that [d]uring the past decade both Unions and management have devoted increasing time and energy to the resolution of problems created by the introduction of new and more complex machinery and equipment.”  Consolidated W. Steel, 62-2 Lab. Arb. Awards (CCH) ¶ 8456 at 5151 (1961) (Roberts, Arb.).  He also has agreed that “seniority provisions of Company-Union agreements are the very heart of the protections afforded employees under such agreements” and that the “[r]ights and privileges based upon seniority are of prime importance to employees on the active payroll” and “of equal importance to those employees on the Company’s layoff list.”  Adel Precision Prods., 61-2 Lab. Arb. Awards (CCH) ¶ 8313 at 4479-80 (1961) (Roberts, Arb.).  See also U.S. Indus., Inc., Tubular Prods. Div., 64-1 Lab. Arb. Awards (CCH) ¶ 8252 at 3932 (1963) (Roberts, Arb.) (“[T]he Union and its members must be protected from an emasculation of the right of senior employees to job security.”).

Whatever the context of a dispute based on the introduction of new equipment or other innovation in the workplace, Arbitrator Roberts consistently scrutinized the circumstances in a detailed fact-based manner to determine who should properly be assigned to operate the equipment, whether it be a worker in a certain job classification, a member of a particular unit, or a non-union employee.  In Consolidated Western Steel, for example, he closely examined the […]

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