Paul Cline, Buckeye, Ariz., column: Seniority is something but not everything
By Paul Cline BUCKEYE, Ariz. -- I'd like to comment on Roger Bondy's letter ("Contract details show Crystal's stubbornness," Page A4, Dec. 20) First, I'd like to thank Bondy for so cogently presenting his arguments. His is one of the first non-sh...
By Paul Cline
BUCKEYE, Ariz. -- I'd like to comment on Roger Bondy's letter ("Contract details show Crystal's stubbornness," Page A4, Dec. 20)
First, I'd like to thank Bondy for so cogently presenting his arguments. His is one of the first non-shrill, non-emotional letters I have read from a locked-out American Crystal Sugar employee.
In his letter, Bondy says that , "Job security also is being able to advance. By working at Crystal for many years, we learn more about the different processes involved in making sugar. Because of that experience and seniority, we should expect to be given the chance to prove we can do the job."
And perhaps they should, if the only job applicants were American Crystal employees. But if a highly qualified outside applicant applies, the management needs the freedom to give the job to the best qualified applicant.
When I applied for my present job, I was hired over a person who had been with the company much longer than I had. We both were highly qualified, but I had experience that the other applicant could not match -- so I got the job.
Under the Crystal union's rules, the other applicant would have won because of seniority.
I am not saying I was the best choice. I am saying the boss deserved to be able to make the choice, not have the choice made for him or her.
"Job security also is the ability to achieve and retain year-round status," Bondy continues. "Under the company's proposal, that status would be nearly impossible to achieve."
But all of us have worked with highly negative people who take the life out of everyone around them. They do their jobs, they usually don't call in sick, and on paper they may be productive; but they are horrible employees.
Why would I, as a manager, want to reward such a person? Under seniority rules, of course, I'd have to: If they are qualified and have not been written up too often, they get the job.
"And job security also is the security that you get from knowing you can't be fired on a whim because somebody doesn't like you, your beliefs or your hair style," the letter goes on.
Any large company operates under many state and federal labor laws that are designed to protect some of those rights. And in order to reduce risk and the chance of expensive lawsuits, companies go to great lengths to ensure fairness.
That said, for a business to succeed, it needs the right people in the right jobs; and in order for that to happen, non-performers or toxic employees at times have to be let go.
The bottom line is this: If I am responsible for ensuring a company stays in business, I need the freedom to put people where I need them in order to get the job done. Seniority should be a factor in any decision I make. But it can't be allowed to be the determining factor.
Cline is a graduate student in aviation and a 2005 graduate of UND.