Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about break rules:
The other day, I was verbally informed that by “union rules” I couldn’t take a break with less than an hour to go in the workday. Discounting the fact that my break was missed due to “work getting in the way” and that the union rules state that a break is required every four hours, with the intention for it to be taken “normally” in the middle of the four-hour time. (Normally, means to me exceptions.)
However, more to the point, it is common practice for supervisors and others to take extended lunch breaks and the union rules say that breaks cannot be taken to end the day or extend lunch. I really don’t care, except for when I am cracked down on, with a wrong ruling. Any suggestions on how to handle this unfair double standard? Thank You.
Signed, Give Me A Break
Dear Give Me A Break:
Double standards are common in workplaces and the larger society. When and if they get changed it is usually due to exposing them to sunshine of fair play. You union negotiated the rule for no breaks within the last hour of work and no extended lunch. What does your union contract say about their enforcement? Check that. Probably enforcement is designated to management, and the recourse for those who see these rules are flaunted or unevenly applied is to register a complaint with a union representative.
Can you work though union channels to complain about uneven application of extended lunch breaks? Possibly, if you can log whom and when they have been taken. However, union reps, themselves, sometimes enjoy a loose application of rules such as extended lunch breaks. Moreover they may ignore minor matters because they prefer cordial understandings with supervisors and managers. So you can voice a complaint about such matters but it might border on being seen as a tattling troublemaker.
Yet voicing dissatisfaction about uneven rule application is the appropriate channel for challenging that. A frank talk with your supervisor is an appropriate channel to handle annoyance with being informed that union rules do not allow a break during the last hour of work when you have not gotten a break because of doing your job. Supervisors are unwise to apply rules rigidly, especially when they know that an employee has worked through her/his break in order to keep work flowing. And a frank confrontation with them about that generally will result in them allowing a flexible interpretation of “normally”. That is a recommended way to handle such a situation. Supervisors will usually be accommodating to employees who are responsible in their performance. More importantly, the issue underlying your question is the matter of commitment to the job and mission of the organization. Concern about applying the rules arises in an adversarial labor-management environment. Fortunately, unions have sprung up to challenge management mistreatment, but once in place, the real goal of both labor and management is productivity and profit. Consequently, handling double standards are secondary and incidentally when employees and their supervisors are engaged in that process.
Double standards have little or no place when cutting wasted supplies, duplication, and effort are what matters. Double standards have little importance when a work group is working as a team. Double standards are of little matter when a team is trying to reach the goal line.Might it be possible to get past this double standard annoyance by being a cheerleader for teamwork? Might you earn the good standing of your supervisor by thinking and acting as a member whose voice is essential to how your work group and organization operate? This approach does not exclude working through your union and frankly confronting your supervisor when appropriate, but it might help you see the bigger picture and be a happier camper. That is what I mean by my signature tagline; Working together with hands, head and heart takes and makes big WEGOS.