Business Law- Unions

Henry has worked for North49, a small manufacturer of transistors, as a production supervisor for 15 years. He is 42 years old, and the oldest member of the young workforce. He is also the only member of the production team paid a regular salary, rather than an hourly wage, and the only one with a non-competition agreement which restricts him from working for any other electronics component manufacturer in the province for 5 years following termination of his employment with North49, except as a result of a layoff.

As part of a “Recession Work Plan,” management at North49 demanded that he and the other production workers be reduced to 6-hour shifts but to be on call, including weekends, without any extra pay if there is a demand spike. Henry explained to his boss, Ted, that he couldn’t follow this plan as it would require him to be available on the weekends when he must be available to look after his young children during his wife’s, Hailey, shifts as an emergency medical servicedispatcher.

North49 is not a unionized environment, though one of Henry’s colleagues has suggested getting certified; as a supervisor, and as the only salaried employee, Henry is not sure if he would be part of any such bargaining agreement.

Indeed, management believes that it might have to shut down the company if a union was formed and they were forced to capitulate to a union’s demands. Hailey’s sister, Janine, is married to Ted who spearheaded and approved the Recession Work Plan in the first place. She’s a stay-at-home mom to challenged twins and the family, even potentially her sister Hailey and her husband Henry, would be severely impacted if Ted’s job were to be in jeopardy.

Henry has come to you for help for possible solutions to his dilemma. What rights does he have, and what can his company demand of him? Would joining a union necessarily be the best solution?

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