The Grievance Process is the back bone of our contractural rights and one that occupies the majority of our energy (though we don’t talk about it very often for confidentiality reasons.) It is also one of those aspects of belonging to a union that members have mixed feelings about. We’re often worried that filing a grievance will make us a target, creating an adversarial relationship with our department but we also cling to it tenaciously when we are caught in a dysfunctional working relationship looking for the process to save us from everything from a difference of working style to outright bullying.
It is important for us to have a clear idea of what the grievance process is, what it can and what it cannot do for us. There are very strict timelines that must be adhered to and when not adhered to can result in nullifying our ability to file a grievance. Also, the issue or concern must be something that is included in the contract. We cannot file grievances for concerns (valid though they might be) that are not covered in the contract.
So, the first thing you want to identify is whether what is happening to you is a violation of our contract. For example, you are being asked to work overtime on Saturday and are told that the only option for remuneration is comp time. You’ve already got tons of comp time and you can never take it because the department is too busy. You need the money.
- Go to the Contract page and search for overtime. It will take you to Article 8: Workweek and Work Schedules, Section 2: Overtime. If you read through that section, you’ll see that item D states that “Compensatory time off in lieu of overtime compensation may be authorized by the CEO or designee only upon request of the employee.”
- This IS a contractual issue. You can then let your supervisor know that you are not requesting comp time for the Saturday overtime and you would prefer monetary compensation. If they refuse, you have grounds for filing a grievance. Contact your steward right away so the paperwork can be filed within the 30 day limit.
How important is it that you follow this suggestion? Very important! These rights are hard won rights that can only be enforced if you, the workers, ask for what is rightfully due you. Not to file a grievance is to allow someone to take money out of your pocket! It also tells them they can get away with this type of violation and before you know it, it has become standard practice on campus.
How about another example… a co-worker is out sick for an extended amount of time and so your boss has taken their workload and given it to you. You are not being offered any overtime (in either money or comp time) to get it done. It’s not a difficulty problem, the co-worker does the same work as you, just increased amount of work. Can you file a grievance?
If you search the contract for “increased work” “more work” you will not get any hits. If you search for “work load” you’ll get one reference in connection with transfers. Essentially, we have no contractual rights about the amount of work we can be given. We do have contractual rights to how long we can be asked to work, if asked to work overtime how we are to be compensated, but not about the amount of work. If it had been work of a higher grade level, you might be eligible for out of title pay but strictly speaking, this type of complaint is not one you could file a grievance for.
That’s not to say the union cannot be of help in these instances. Your stewards are there to provide a source of information and support for almost any work-related issue. We may not always be able to make the problem go away, may not always be able to file a grievance but we can give good, solid advice and maybe suggest a solution or two. So, know your steward and don’t be afraid to give them a call.