Editor’s Note: The Battle of Loos

You’ve probably seen the headlines on the Web of a manufacturing company limiting scheduled bathroom breaks to six minutes a day to recoup lost production time. It’s head-turning stuff.

It got ugly for WaterSaver Faucet Co., a manufacturer in Chicago, when its labor dispute with a workers union spilled into the media with remarkable headlines of the company limiting bathroom breaks to six minutes a day.

Forced into damage control, Steve Kersten, owner and CEO, said excessive bathroom use caused the company to recently lose 120 hours of production time,  which led to the excessive countermeasure. In labor contract disputes, the truth usually lies somewhere between what union members and employers respectively claim to the press, but Kersten didn’t deny installing a swipe card system for workers to punch to go in and out of washrooms. And he said employees have used a gift card reward program for not using the bathroom during non-break times, leaving us to wonder did HR, at some point, say maybe there were better, less draconian ways to improve the work environment?

This PR nightmare will take a while to clean up, and forget about attracting new hires. On Wednesday, Tim McAward of Kelly Services will have a follow-up article to this week’s engineering jobs outlook, with color commentary on a winning industrial work environment, so stay tuned to ThomasNet News. Figure employee flexibility — and the decency of bathroom breaks, no less — to be a part of that.
William Ng, Editor-in-Chief, wng@thomasnet.com.


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  • Karl McGaugh
    July 28, 2014

    I am a blue collar worker from Oklahoma and I don’t agree with your assessment. With union workers like these I hope the company closes its doors and moves to Oklahoma. The employees are abusing the employer by extending bathroom time outside of break time. You can’t shut down production every time someone needs to go to the bathroom. And if the employer needs to set limits on bathroom time during non break time then that should be accepted without question by the employees.

    We don’t have these kinds of union workers in Oklahoma. Union employees take breaks or don’t take breaks based on the needs of the job they are doing at the time. Fixed times for lunch and breaks are for the mutual benefit of the workers and the employers. One hand washes the other.

    Having a good paying job with a bright future is on every workers mind and the union should echo this as the #1 priority. Unions are losing members because the jobs are moving to “Right to Work” States or out of the country. Good paying jobs are the #1 priority for all walks of life and the sooner the unions and the politically correct (PC) media understand this the better off workers will be.

    The control of unions has been taken away from the workers by unscrupulous union bosses and the bylaws of the union. Workers need help to bust up this control so new unions can compete with old unions. The state legislature needs to end forced union membership and employer paid dues. In addition there needs to be public oversight of union bosses by a law demanding all unions to have an annual confidence vote from it’s members through the State Labor Commissioner that validates the union’s right to represent its members. Unions will then compete for the right to represent workers and collect dues. Lower dues, better representation, and better workers will be the outcome from this kind of legislation.

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