The Importance of Just Cause

“Just Cause” means an employee can’t be disciplined, suspended, or fired “just be-cause.” It means due process at work – the same way that in a court of law people are entitled to a fair and spelled out procedure. At work, under “just cause,” members are entitled to the same.

In a field where telling uncomfortable truths is foundational, the threat of being fired for any reason based on the company’s sole editorial judgment is a muzzle on investigative and in-depth reporting. A free press relies on the freedom from the fear of being fired because management doesn’t like an article.

The Globe’s proposal would eliminate the Guild’s ability to grieve and arbitrate verbal warnings, written warnings, and final written warnings. Worse yet, the proposal would allow management to use warnings to constitute progressive discipline even though the Guild would never get the chance to put the merits of these warnings before an arbitrator. This is the polar opposite of Just Cause.

They’ve also added a new “Editorial Terminations” provision that creates a loophole so large to essentially render Just Cause in our contract meaningless. This sneaky “Editorial Terminations” provision would take away members’ rights to challenge the company’s decision if it is unfair or unjust or take it to an arbitrator. Globe management would be the judge, jury, and executioner. If there is no way to hold the company accountable, there’s nothing to stop them from firing someone under an “editorial” pretext for any reason, or no reason at all.

Just Cause is a standard contained in most union contracts, in all types of industries, and has been codified as a standard through legal and arbitration precedent. Attacking Just Cause is a typical management trick. We deserve better.

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