Your MOU defines a grievance in Article 3.1, Section I as follows:
A grievance is defined as a dispute concerning the interpretation or application of this written MOU, or departmental rules and regulations governing personnel practices or working conditions applicable to employees covered by this MOU. The parties agree that the following shall not be subject to the grievance procedure:
- An impasse in meeting and conferring upon the terms of a proposed Memorandum of Understanding.
- Any matter for which an administrative remedy is provided before the Civil Service Commission.
- Any issue that the parties agree to refer to another administrative resolution process.
Section IIa of the same Article limits the grievance as follows:
“Nothing in this grievance procedure shall be construed to apply to matters for which an administrative remedy is provided before the Civil Service Commission.”
It further states that an issue can either be filed as a grievance or an Unfair Employee Relations Practice (UERP) but not both.
We can all read this in our MOU, but what does it really mean in the workplace? It means that there must be a specific violation cited in the filing of the formal grievance and that it must be a violation of the terms of specific documents. There are additional violations that are not as obviously spelled out as follows:
- A violation of the MOU, the most common grievance. In addition to the specific violation, always include Article 1.10b.
- A violation of labor law. You must cite the specific law that is violated.
- A violation of City rules and policies, particularly the Administrative Code as it applies to employment.
- Disparate treatment, if the treatment is not based in discrimination under the appropriate laws.
- Past Practice.
Seeming ’wrongs’ in the workplace that are not grievances:
- A decision by a manager that results in additional costs. This commonly stated as “A manager has the right to mismanage.”
- Discipline involving suspensions of more than 5 days within a 12 month period. This is appealed to the Civil Service Commission.
- A supervisor likes one employee more than another, unless this liking leads to disparate treatment.
Any potential grievance is subject to the timelines in your MOU, so it is imperative to understand those timelines. Many grievances are simply dismissed as “untimely” and are never heard on their merits. You must always be concise in your description of the offense in the written grievance and must cite the correct MOU provision, Code, law, or past practice that has been violated. Your Union Steward or Labor Representative can assist you in determining if a grievable offense has occurred or not.