Thursday, August 8, 2013

Spencer's Employer Issues Another Statement #BB15

The new avalanche of chatter that exploded this week regarding Spencer's "joke" about child porn has caused Spencer's employer, Union Pacific Railroad, to issue another statement regarding the matter.

This is from their website, updated yesterday.

I know many of the bloggers and other fans interpreted the July 6th statement to read that Spencer had been terminated.  This is NOT the case, as Spencer is not a direct employee of Union Pacific.  He is a member of a union that has a contract to perform services for the railroad.

They CANNOT terminate his employment without cause.  Spencer took a leave of absence this summer to compete on Big Brother, and if the railroad wishes to terminate his employment when he returns there is a series of steps that it must follow to TRY to make that happen, all governed by the laws of the contract, or collective bargaining agreement.


1.  I can't go into too much detail about this, but in one of my positions with a Fortune 100 company I had 45 employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement in my department.  One of them apparently peed on a tree during the work day in full view of people inside a nearby building.  The people were mortified and called me directly to report what they saw....and they saw a lot.  I had to meet with attorneys to practice my testimony on behalf of the people in the building, who chose not to appear in court due to the circumstances.  The testimony included describing the employee's penis that people claimed to see.  I kept giggling as we practiced and the attorneys were mad at me, telling me we could lose the case if I messed up in court.  I even had to tour the bathroom inside the building to see if it was clean and suitable for use if the employee had chosen to ask to use it rather than peeing on the tree. 

Long story short, this infraction was not enough for the employee to lose his job.  He came back on the job and got paid for the time he was on suspension.  Not because I giggled during testimony, but because his act did not qualify as an act worthy of termination under the contract.

2.  Making inappropriate statements under the guise of a joke while filming a reality show is likely not cause for termination at the railroad.  Making racist comments while not on the job is likely not one, either. It's not like Spencer is part of Investor Relations or an Internal Auditor or some other position where he represents the company in a formal manner.  He works in a rail yard that he has already described as a "locker room" environment.  If you think crude and inappropriate jokes aren't part of any locker room in the US, then you are hopelessly idealistic.  Think about the cable guys or beer doesn't matter what their personal beliefs are, as long as they lawfully do their jobs.

3.  Of more concern to Spencer might be his comments about pot and K2 smoking, as well as the helpful tips regarding paraphenalia he has discussed on the live feeds.  I would imagine this would indeed violate the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, if indeed he is partaking in his off hours.  We may be legalizing marijuana use for medical and/or recreational use in many states, but having a job like Spencer's where safety is an issue will NEVER relax the rules regarding drug use that impedes your ability to do your job.  No one wants a train disaster, do they?

4.  This is one example of why I am not pro-union, although I did enjoy working with 99% of the union employees I managed.  The system does not allow star performers to succeed, because it is generally based on seniority.  When layoffs are necessary, it is ALWAYS the people with the least experience who are terminated, even if their performance is stellar.  Personally, I believe in a meritocracy where hard work and grit pay off as far as advancement in the workplace, rather than whoever's butt has been in the chair the longest.  Plus, we have OSHA, Worker's Comp, and many other programs to protect worker's rights that were not available when the union system began to grow.  I'm not an expert, this is just my opinion.

5.  Finally, regarding the legalization of marijuana....f you would like to get involved in "the movement" you can easily find groups in your state that are trying to introduce legislation and educate voters on the facts.  Even buying a T-shirt will help the movement and trust me, when you wear that shirt it is a real conversation starter.  My friend and I bought "legalization" T-shirts from a local organization  and the night we wore them out in the bars we had a line of people trying to talk to us about it.  New friends, free drinks, even a date with a cute attorney for my friend.

It's all happening now, and you can be a part of it.


  1. Good points about the actual impact of Spencer's tasteless joke on his career at the railroad. The comments of his that *I* though were most likely job-impairing (not accounting for the protection of his union) were those about having sex with a woman who was riding the rails. There was the strong implication of a quid pro quo there. If he exchanged sex for train passage, or if there is a chance he pressured her to sleep with him to avoid being thrown off the train, THAT would be an issue, would it not?

  2. Yeah Shelly, that was pretty bad. I think he said he gave her a McDonald's hamburger, too.

    Who knows what really goes on behind the scenes at the railroad. I have a client in the trucking industry and he pointed out that no matter how advanced society is as far as online purchases, banking transactions, etc, every single thing in our homes has to arrive via truck or train at some point.

    Until we can teleport, these old systems will still be around.

  3. Feed Watcher, you seem very knowledgeable in employment matters. Do you think Amanda will be fired ? And why haven't we heard anything from her employer ? I know she and her mom are real estate sales associates that work for a Prudential Franchise but surely they would not want her back.

  4. Amanda is a self-employed realtor. Prudential is not her employer. I think she will have PLENTY of people who want to hire her when this is over for listing and selling.

    Just like the guys on Million Dollar Listing, the more ruthless you are, the more successful you can be negotiating contracts for your clients.


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