Case 42: Shouting for Results
Case 42 (continued)
Shouting for Results
Fran Jackson had been Director of Operations for the University Hospital for three years. During
that time, she had made gains in improving the department. She had “cleaned up” the dubious
contracting practices of her predecessor, who had been fired. She had also managed to get the
local chapter of the Hospital Workers Union to approve a new merit pay plan. Fran had worked
on this plan in fits and starts since the start of her employment at the hospital. Under the plan,
supervisors conducted performance appraisals of their employees. The level of the rating and the
employee’s current salary then determined how much of an annual increase the employee would
receive. Even though the plan was adopted, hospital managers were not trained in how to use the
Last month, Pat Hudson, the supervisor of Special Services in Housekeeping, completed per-
formance appraisals on four employees. The Housekeeping group had a history of labor relations
problems with the hospital administration. Three of the rated employees refused to sign the rat-
ings, which were average and acceptable. They filed a grievance on the ratings, demanding to be
rated as Very Good. They claimed Pat did not have sufficient information on which to base their
When Pat rejected their appeal, they took it to the next level, which meant that Fran reviewed
it. In discussing the matter with Pat, Fran found that the three employees were at best average
performers and that the ratings were justified.
Fran called a meeting to review the grievance. In addition to Fran and Pat, the following peo-
ple were also in attendance: the three employees, their shop steward, and two new people—Buck
Brownly, the local’s president, and Sue Cranston, a representative from the national union.
As Fran tried to start the meeting, Buck Brownly cut her off, demanding that the evaluation
ratings be changed. The shop steward joined in, followed by the employees, and soon it seemed
that the meeting was a shouting match. Order was finally restored by the shop steward, Betsy
Williams. Betsy threatened to bring out the “dirty laundry” of Fran’s predecessor if the evalua-
tions weren’t changed. Fran became incensed and dared Betsy to do so. She told Buck Brownly
that he wasn’t in a position to demand anything and that before his tirade, she had been willing to
listen. However, now she was ready to fully accept the evaluations as they were stated. She told
the employees to get back to work.
As she began to leave, Sue Cranston, who had been sitting quietly taking notes, began talk-
ing. She pointed out that the union was prepared to take the grievance to the next step: a meeting
with the hospital’s president. She also pointed out their basic charge was unanswered—that is, Pat
had insufficient information about their performance because she worked a different shift and
seldom checked on their performance. As a result, she did not have enough information with
which to make the ratings stick.
Fran knew that Sue had a point.