Monday, March 27, 2017

Practical Matters: Grievance, Arbitration, and Mediation

by Sarah Kain Gutowski, Chair, New Member Mentoring Program
I'd like to think that your first academic year here at SCCC has gone smoothly and that you've found your working conditions here optimal. Also, I'd hope that if you've run into anything problematic, you've addressed your concerns with your mentor first and they've provided you with some sound and useful advice for tackling the problem.

If you ever run into a problem that seems larger than your mentor, academic chair, or department supervisor can handle -- specifically, one that includes a violation of our contract -- OR, if your academic chair or department supervisor is part of the problem (fingers crossed, that won't be the case) -- that's an appropriate time to ask the FA's Grievance Officer, Dante Morelli, about filing a grievance.
Any member of the bargaining unit -- even those who aren't voting union members -- may be represented by the union when he or she files a grievance. Just remember that timeliness is a real and pressing issue; if you're going to file a grievance, you need to do so within 30 days of when you noticed the violation (or should have noticed the violation).
Once the grievance has been filed, the FA will work to settle the matter satisfactorily through arbitration. But if you're someone who'd like to avoid the grievance and arbitration process, the FA has a brand new Conflict Mediation Program (CMP) to help you do just that.  

The CMP assists its members in addressing conflict proactively and confidentially before problems become bigger problems. Several FA members, all of whom undergo intensive training, are available to provide neutral, judgment-free, confidential mediation between members, or between members and administration or staff, in a confidential, safe space. Did I mention that it's confidential? Everyone involved must sign a confidentiality agreement. Additionally, it's important to remember that all parties must approach mediation willingly and in good faith. It doesn't work -- in fact, it's not a true mediation -- if one of the parties feels like he or she has been coerced or forced to participate.

For more information about the CMP, contact Dante Morelli at 451-4963.

Note that most grievances don't approach arbitration because they can be resolved beforehand -- sometimes through the CMP and sometimes less formally -- but if they do go to arbitration (and the FA decides which grievances go to arbitration and which do not), your union will be there for you.

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