A grievance is a way to challenge actions taken against you by management, whether campus or district management. Grievances are also used by the union to enforce the terms of the collective bargaining agreement (the "contract") when these rules have been misinterpreted, misapplied, or violated by the district. If your rights under the contract have been violated you can file a grievance at the AFT office, to your immediate supervisor and seek a formal resolution to the dispute.
The deadline for filing a grievance is: fifteen working days after the grievant first knew, or by reasonable diligence should have first known, of the condition(s) upon which the grievance based. The grievance procedure will not help you fight every unfair thing the manager does but it will help you enforce the rights guaranteed you by the contract. Grievances are violations, misinterpretations, or misapplications of the contract; violations of the law, Board Policy, common decency are not necessarily covered. If unsure whether it's a grievance ask the AFT Grievance Chair.
Steps to take:
Contact the union for assistance as soon as a negative action is taken against you (e.g. no or fewer classes or hours being offered to you, disciplinary write-ups, coercion, etc.). Remember you only have 15 working days to file.
Immediately gather important documents such as past and current semester Assignment Request Forms, past and current work offers, and any other documents you believe may be helpful to the case. Fax, hand deliver, or mail the documents to the union office, so that the Grievance Chair can assist you in determining if there has been a violation of the contract.
Schedule a meeting with the Grievance Chair or union staff to discuss your options.
If you decide to file a grievance complete the grievance form and ensure that it has been delivered to the appropriate person. The California Public Employee Relations Board has determined that the following rules apply to any meeting with a supervisor that an employee reasonably believes could result in disciplinary action against them.
RULE 1: The employee must make a clear request for union representation before or during the interview. The employee cannot be punished for making this request.
RULE 2: After the employee makes the request, the employer must choose from among three options. The employer must either: (a) grant the request and delay questioning until the union representative arrives and has a chance to consult privately with the employee; or (b) deny the request and end the interview immediately; or (c) give the employee a choice of (1) having the interview without representation or (2) ending the interview.
RULE 3: If the employer denies the request for union representation, and continues to ask questions, it commits an unfair labor practice and the employee has a right to refuse to answer. An employee may not be disciplined for such a refusal.
These safeguards exist for all faculty. You can choose to be represented by a union rep such as the Grievance Chair, a campus Vice President, or another union representative of your choice.
If a supervisor refuses to let you have a representative, document what was said, who was present, and then call the union immediately! It is against the law to deny you union representation.
The Federation is working in concert with the CFT, AFT and AFL-CIO in creating a network of activists who want to be involved in local, state and national actions. Want to get active in your local? Email Paula Munoz at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the AFT office (805) 987-1188 with your name and contact information. We will get you plugged in to help make a difference!