Discussion Question

Q1. QUESTION 1: LABOR LAW(This topic on union law is not specifically discussed in our assigned chapters, but you can respond without textbook coverage.)

      My recollection may be skewed, so for our purposes, consider this example a hypothetical, but this is my recollection of a real case.  In the early 80s, in Salt Lake County, Utah, a dispute arose involving the “largest open-pit copper mine” in the Western hemisphere, run by Kennecott Copper Corporation.  Kennecott had recently been acquired by Beatrice, a conglomerate of many diversified interests.  The collective bargaining agreement between Kennecott and its employees at the mine and smelter was nearing its end date.  Negotiations were under way for a new agreement.  The United Mine Workers union handled the negotiations on behalf of labor, with national representatives flying in to do so.  The talks turned ugly.  Neither side would budge.  Management stood fast that given the economic climate and their financial condition, hourly wage increases requested were impossible.  Union workers were averaging wages in the $25 to $30 dollar range already, and there was no way profit was possible at that rate.  The mine would have to be shut down rather than giving in to such demands.

     The UMW did not budge.  The national scope and interest of other geographic areas was at stake.  If the union gave in here, what would the ripple effect be in the North, South, and East?  Literally, there was an impasse. 

    Beatrice made an executive decision.  Negotiations were cut off.  The mine was closed.  The result was that 2,000 workers, on the upper end of the local labor demographic were laid off.  Some were able to move to other areas of the country and find work, but most were not.  The entire local economy was affected.  Workers now had to find work for which they were unskilled, and at a low wage, minimum or just above.  According to union rules, the mine had to remain closed for a three-year period, or the labor force must be unionized again.  Beatrice did that.  They used the hiatus to re-engineer the mine, automated the equipment and operation at the cost of millions of dollars, and opened the mine after the required down time.  From then until now, with a labor force of under 600 non-union workers working at medium-level wages, Kennecott has operated a successful “for profit” operation, competing with international companies world wide.

             Although this introduction is long, the questions to which I would like comment are, 1.  “Who, if anyone, do you think did the right thing, and why?”   2.  “Do you think the government (NLRB or another) should have intervened and forced an agreement?

 

 

 

 

Q2. Question 2 Affirmative Action – Still Useful?

Employment Law

            Please be very cognizant of an open minded and fair tone in this question, and demonstrate the sensitivity to diversity that the University wishes to foster.  None of us would choose to offend any classmate with our response.

             Questions:  Given your experience and knowledge gained, and in light of the 1996 California legislative action to prohibit state-sponsored programs, do you believe there have been positive benefits in Affirmative Action programs?  Do you believe they should continue?  Please feel free to give examples of successful implementations or not-so-successful examples, and be willing to qualify and explain your answer by geography or other factors.  Often your answer may be couched in the context of whether your firm would implement a voluntary program, and the reasons why.

If you are not aware of the referendum action in California, here is an article which explains it:

California Bans AffirmativeAction

Marcia Barinaga

Programs to boost the number of women and minority scientists have been part of the science education landscape for years, but in the wake of election results from California, educators nationwide are soberly pondering the future of their efforts. Last week, California voters passed an anti-affirmativeaction initiative, Proposition 209, that outlaws race or gender preferences in state employment, education, and contracting.

The law kills state-funded minority graduate fellowships, forces rapid changes in undergraduate admissions at the University of California (UC), and raises questions about the continued success of model programs that bring young minorities and women into science. It is seen by many as a bellwether of what may come in other states, or even at the federal level. “This will lead to more efforts to get [similar laws] on the ballot, or to get cases taken before the courts,” says Shirley McBay, president of the Quality Education for Minorities Network in Washington, D.C.

Some groups have filed lawsuits challenging 209, but state universities must prepare to comply immediately. That means “significant declines” in the number of minority students at the most competitive UC campuses, warns Tom Lifka, assistant vice chancellor at UC Los Angeles (UCLA). And although the law doesn’t specifically target science, shrinking the already small minority pipeline will reduce the numbers of those who choose science and engineering, says physicist Stan Prussin, director of the minority-targeted Professional Development Program at UC Berkeley. “It has been a very hard fight” to increase ethnic diversity in science programs, he says, “and I have great fear of what they are going to look like in the next year.”

The chilly climate for affirmativeaction began in California even before the elections, when the UC regents last year ordered the removal of race and gender from admissions and hiring criteria (Science, 9 February, p. 752). The rules on undergraduate admissions were to be postponed until 1998–but Proposition 209 forces them to take effect immediately, erasing any hope for a reversal of the regents’ decision. The greatest impact will be at top UC campuses that accept only a small fraction of applicants and have relied on affirmativeaction to boost the numbers of minority students. At UCLA and Berkeley, the percentage of black, Hispanic, and American Indian students in future freshman classes is expected to be halved (see table of estimates).

 

Q3. Questions 3 (Government Regulation) 

How do government regulatory agencies and laws impact business organizations? Choose one or two specific governmental regulatory requirements, and explain what affects they have on business organizations. (Those applicable to your industry are preferable.)

Determine methods for managing the legal risks and compliance issues that arise because of these requirements.

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