My Employer’s Forcing Me To Quit

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about recently hired employees being given preference:
My employer is wrongful forcing me to quit. I work for a unionized construction company. I’ve been with my job for ten years now. The job consists of pouring concrete slabs and all aspects of concrete for commercial warehouses and stores. For the last 9 years, I have made saw cuts into the concrete slab to prevent it from uncontrolled cracking.

In the past year, they fired my co-worker by forcing him to quit, the same way they are treating me. I’m worried I’m next on their list. Employer hired two new employees for my position as a second crew, but slowly as work slowed down , I’ve been getting less shifts as the new employees would get the call for work before they would call me.

The job is seasonal so they put me on employment insurance. Now that it spring and work is starting up again, I still get no calls for work. Meantime the new employees are working a few days a week. I’ve been calling in for work since the first of March and then every two weeks after that. They keep telling me it will start in two weeks but it’s been two months now.

I’m worried that they are starving me out, knowing I have two small children that I can’t go without work. Meantime the work I could be doing is filled with employees who only been in the company for 8 months compared to my 10 years.

I never been warned about poor performance or not doing my job right. My attendance has been great; I’ve only missed work with proper notice. The only thing they have against me is that I helped my old co-worker to complain to the union for unfair wages, which we won that fight, and ever since then they had a vendetta against us. I just want to know if this is legal or should I speak to someone about it.
Signed Need To Work

Dear Need To Work:

You probably have correctly diagnosed why you are not being called. What has your union said about this? Have you reported that your company is calling new employees rather than you? Should you speak with your union about this? Yes, that’s what unions are for. Provide the union with whatever evidence you have of this and seek its help. You imply that you want to know if this is legal. Your union may need to inform your state’s Department of Labor of what’s going on.

We are not attorneys and do not provide legal advice; however, it appears that your union may seek the advice of its attorneys. This is particularly so if what you say is true—that since you spoke up in behalf of an old employee about unfair wages, your employer has treated you poorly. You use the words “a vendetta against us” as a consequence of winning a fight for over unfair pay. The union should be informed of this too.

Obviously you have seniority over those two recently employed, and seniority should mean something. Although law and circumstance can vary generally U.S. permits replacement of workers only in case of a strike, and that then becomes a matter of settlement in bargaining. No union will agree that it’s ok to hire newer employees with less wages or to force you out.

Of course you understand the need for your company to succeed and that your job hinges on its success. Therefore, continue to show your concern for that. Avoid seeing your boss and management as the enemy. Do let us know what transpires. Yes, you need work and need the help of your union. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS is my way of saying you have a right to speak up.

Bill Gorden