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FirstGroup America Introduces Independent Compliance Monitoring Program
Monday 28 January 2008
For the first time in the United States, a corporation has voluntarily established an independent compliance monitoring system to address complaints arising out of workplace practices. FirstGroup plc, the leading provider of surface transportation services, has announced that it has implemented a first-of-its-kind independent monitoring program to insure employee rights to freedom of association. The innovative program will enhance the company’s existing Freedom of Association and Corporate Social Responsibility policies and its commitment to the principle that employees should be free from coercion when deciding whether or not they want to join a labor organization.
FirstGroup has a history of progressive employee relations and has a Freedom of Association policy that is one of the most progressive in any sector of the economy. The Freedom of Association policy has served as an excellent illustration of good corporate governance. Under existing practice, FirstGroup has employed retired labor judges as well as John Lyons, a former UK Member of Parliament, to observe the application of its Policy.
The program raises FirstGroup’s commitment to a new level and provides an avenue for employees or their representatives to raise issues arising under FirstGroup’s Freedom of Association Policy with an Independent Monitor. The Independent Monitor will not be an employee of FirstGroup and will have broad discretion to issue findings and recommendations in response to complaints. Some key components of the monitoring program include:
• A formal complaint and investigatory process, with a commitment by the company of full cooperation with the Monitor.
• Complaints and responses that are filed directly with the Independent Monitor.
• Transparency in the investigatory process and the monitor’s conclusions as complaining parties will be provided with a copy of the report.
• Rapid investigation of complaints.
Martin Gilbert, Chairman of FirstGroup plc, observed that, “Many companies have found it difficult to make effective the freedom of association principles contained in their corporate social responsibility statements. We believe that our program is the first to attempt to give real meaning to these statements.”
To further demonstrate its commitment to its Freedom of Association Policy, FirstGroup is announcing that Professor William B. Gould IV has agreed to serve as the Independent Monitor for this groundbreaking program. Professor Gould is a distinguished scholar of labor law with a long track record as both an impartial and neutral arbiter of labor-management disputes as well as an advocate for employee rights. In 1993, President Clinton appointed Professor Gould as Chairman of the National Labor Relations Board, a position in which he served from 1994 to 1998, promoting freedom of association principles through both adjudication and other policy reforms.
Prior to serving as the NLRB Chairman, Professor Gould was a member of the Commission on the Future of Worker-Management Relations. In addition, Professor Gould has arbitrated labor disputes since the ‘60s and has been a member of the National Academy of Arbitrators since 1970. He presently is the Charles A. Beardsley Professor of Law, Emeritus at Stanford Law School.
“Throughout his career, Professor Gould has demonstrated not only a deep knowledge of labor policy issues, but also a genuine concern for the rights of employees,” said Moir Lockhead, CEO of FirstGroup plc. “His selection for the role of Monitor demonstrates the importance of our Freedom of Association Policy to our culture and our business.”
Professor Gould congratulated FirstGroup on the innovative program and its progressive approach to employee relations. “FirstGroup is leading the way in voluntarily promoting the rule of law in labor-management relations in a way that serves the interests of both the workforce and management,” said Gould. “I look forward to serving in this important role and applaud the company for adopting a leading position on these issues.”