Why Did They DENY Your Claim?
Why Did They DENY Your Claim?
Recently, Union Pacific posted an article on their website titled “Why Did You Dispute My Labor Claim?” In this “opinion piece,” General Director of Labor Relations Hanquist offered numerous excuses as to why valid time claims are declined. The excuses are many, but at no point does Director Hanquist answer the question posed in his title. Most notably, he states in the last paragraph, “Going forward, it would be helpful if we could simplify our agreement work rules and shorten the claims process so everyone has a better opportunity to understand the work rules and resolve differences quicker.”
UP has tried for many years to “modernize” our Schedule of Rules. Primarily, these efforts – for UP – have focused upon removing Agreement language which UP feels is “so old, it is irrelevant.” The Agreements which UP would like to “simplify,” however, are ones that this Organization negotiated to protect our members from being required to perform service beyond that required by an assignment. To give these protections away with little or no return for our membership, as UP wishes, would have no benefit other than to reduce the Union Pacific payroll.
The article also states that automation has helped with consistency and payroll issues, as well as expediting the claims process. The article does not share, however, that it is only the denial process which has been expedited by automation. UP can now deny innumerable claims in a matter of minutes with the blanket statement that “the claim has been routed to field management who recommend the claim be denied.” Eliminating the need to research whether a claim is valid and payable has certainly “expedited” the process.
There is no argument that there are many Agreements on our property, including National, Hub/Zone and Local Agreements, but this fact does not relieve UP of its responsibility to research and properly vet a claim before denying it. It is appalling that UP chooses to call our Agreements “archaic” in an effort to excuse its refusals to comply with those Agreements.
This office will not sit idly by while UP issues blanket denials of our members’ claims simply because management no longer perceives any benefit from our Agreements. These “old and antiquated” Agreements were part of a quid pro quo between the parties. In other words, when each of these Agreements was negotiated, both sides wanted something, and both sides were willing to give something in order to gain what was desired. Now that UP has gotten what it wanted from our members, it simply wishes the Agreements to go away (for free).
Our membership should understand what UP is trying to do when articles such as this are posted on their website. These commentaries are intended solely to inflame our members into pressuring this Organization to “give up” claims – and make things easier for UP. The next time you submit a valid claim which is denied, make no mistake about which party is responsible.