In The Manhole
The ABC Telephone Company provides local telephone service for a large area of the U.S. While many of its lines are mounted on poles, an increasing number of lines are being placed underground. Although it costs more initially to go underground, repair and maintenance costs are much less.
Typically, when telephone lines are buried, they are adjacent to other underground facilities, such as, gas, sewer, and electric power. Access to all these facilities is through manholes which may be 6 20 feet in depth. Sewer lines often emit methane gas which can seep through the soil and is poisonous. Accordingly, the companies providing and maintaining these services have scheduled two technicians to work together. Whenever one was required to go into a manhole, the other could be above ground and adjacent to the manhole.
There have been cases where the person in the manhole has become faint or sick in the stomach, but no cases of death or lasting injury.
New technology was developed and tested that transferred air from the manholes to the atmosphere and returned fresh air. The machine included a monitor which would show the level of methane gas in the immediate vicinity and would sound an audible alarm if gas levels reached a certain level.
The ABC Telephone Company and the power and gas companies purchased a number of these machines, trained their technicians to use them, and began assigning manhole work to individuals working alone. The union filed a grievance claiming that two people were required for this type of work. The company disagreed and the grievance went to arbitration.
What points do you think the union used to support their position?
What points do you think the company used to support their position?