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Hartwyk v. Monroe Calculating Machine Co.

Decided: April 18, 1951.

WILLIAM HARTWYK, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MONROE CALCULATING MACHINE COMPANY, A DELAWARE CORPORATION, AND UNITED ELECTRICAL, RADIO AND MACHINE WORKERS OF AMERICA, LOCAL NO. 431, DEFENDANTS



Stein, J.s.c.

Stein

Plaintiff, William Hartwyk, was employed by defendant, Monroe Calculating Machine Company, on August 7, 1942. In 1947 he was in the Factory Cost Department, when he was transferred to the cafeteria. He claims that he agreed to the transfer only if his seniority in the Factory Cost Department remained undisturbed. The defendant company denies that there was any such agreement and asserts that while there was plant-wide seniority, which was strictly observed in Hartwyk's case, there was no departmental seniority in the Factory Cost Department, departmental seniority existing only in a few departments which required special skills of the workmen, such as tool makers, screw machine operators and the like.

In 1949 there was a rumor that Hartwyk was coming back to the Factory Cost Department, whereupon other employees protested that if he came back to that department he should be the first to be transferred to another department if any curtailment was made in the Factory Cost Department.

Hartwyk was not a member of the union. However, the union was the sole representative for collective bargaining of all employees of the company. The contract which existed between the union and the company provided for adjustment of grievances and for arbitration. On February 6, 1949, this claimed grievance by the employees of the Factory Cost Department was adjusted by determination that if Hartwyk returned to Factory Cost his plant-wide seniority would be undisturbed, but so far as the Factory Cost Department was concerned he would have to be transferred to other work before any of the other men were transferred. A memorandum of the agreement was written dated February 7, 1949, which is as follows:

"After a series of conferences on the matter of transferring William Hartwyk from the Cafeteria to MD-5, or to the position of factory cost clerk, it was agreed between us as follows:

That Hartwyk be offered a job in either of the two departments above mentioned, and that if he accepted the one in the Factory Cost Department, his company seniority, based on having been hired August 7, 1942, will not be effected; but so far as the Factory Cost Department is concerned, his seniority would begin the date that the transfer from Cafeteria to Factory Cost Department became effective. The purpose of this arrangement is to make sure that in the event of a curtailment of employment in the Factory Cost Department, Hartwyk would have to be transferred to other work before any of the men now employed in the Factory Cost Department.

These conditions were presented to Mr. Hartwyk, and he refused both jobs stating that he felt he was entitled to return to the Factory Cost Department with both plant and departmental seniority, dating to his original date of hire. It was explained to Hartwyk that his request could not be met, because the conditions of the transfer, outlined above, had been decided upon through the orderly process of collective bargaining between the company and the representatives of the union."

On October 31, 1949, there was a lay-off of 93 men. Hartwyk was offered his choice of some 20 different jobs. He refused them all and quit his employment with the company.

In February, 1950, invoking the provisions of the collective bargaining contract between the company and the union, Hartwyk sought arbitration of his claim that he was entitled to seniority in the Factory Cost Department and that he had

been laid off although persons employed by the company for a shorter period had been retained.

The collective bargaining contract between the company and the union provides for adjusting grievances in Article XII and, if no satisfactory settlement is arrived at under that Article, ...


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