File A Grievance
Table of Contents
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 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 as 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.
A grievance is a dispute over the interpretation and/or application of any provision of the MOU, City rules and regulations, governing personnel practices, or labor law. For additional information, see the page “Grievance Defined”. You should discuss the situation with your Union Steward or Labor Representative before filing to determine the best strategy. The Steward has familiarity with your particular workplace and has access to additional resources within the Union if needed.
The grievance procedure is outlined in the MOU for every Unit represented by EAA and must be followed to the letter. Portions of that procedure are mentioned below for reference and clarity. It is the employee’s responsibility to schedule the informal discussion and to follow with the first level of formal grievance when needed. There are five items that are absolutely essential to keep in mind in order to win a grievance at any level:
- Prepare for every grievance as if you were presenting it to an impartial arbitrator. Remember that the various levels of review prior to arbitration are performed by those in the chain of command that promoted your supervisor and they may be sympathetic to his side of the story as they already know him.
- Document; document; document. Details of when, where, who, what, and why are essential to convince someone, who is not in your workplace and are quite useful in the informal stage. Pay particular attention to possible witnesses.
- Timelines, timelines, timelines. Many grievances are denied because they are not filed or not appealed in a timely manner. There is no appeal to missing a timeline except in a violation that is ongoing, thus regularly extending the timeline. Note that all timelines are specified in calendar days and that timelines may be extended by mutual agreement of both parties.
- Cite the proper sections of your MOU or City rules that are violated. When in doubt, cite every section and always include Section 1.10B (read it and you will see why). It is useful to include a phrase such as “and all other applicable MOU provisions and City rules”, particularly when you are confused as to which one applies.
- Be specific when regarding the remedy you seek and be certain it is within the power of the City to grant. The remedy sought in the first written stage generally cannot be changed later.
Note that the grievance procedure adopted July 1, 2010 is considerably expedited over the previous procedure. It has similar response times for both management and the employee, ensuring timely completion of the procedure. The following is a brief explanation of the steps. Please read your MOU and discuss the grievance with a Steward or Labor Representative. Also note there is a somewhat different procedure if you are employed at LAPD, as explained in your MOU.
Step 1 is the informal discussion with your supervisor. The single most important to remember is to notify your supervisor that you wish to begin the grievance process within the specified 10 business days of the grievable incident. The meeting can occur at any mutually agreed time thereafter, but failure to notify your supervisor is a waiver of your right to grieve.
Step 2 is the first level of review. You must file the completed Grievance Initiation form below. The grievant (you) is required to file within 10 business days of your supervisor’s denial of the grievance or his/her failure to respond within 10 business days of the informal discussion. Your Steward can give your advice regarding the proper citations or you may contact the Labor Representative for your department to obtain that advice.
Step 4 is arbitration and is filed by your EAA Labor Representative.
If you think the grievance procedure is somewhat loaded in favor of management, you are correct. The procedure or one very similar is in effect for all represented City employees, not just EAA. And, generally, the burden of proof is on the employee and his or her representative.
Included below for your convenience are the necessary forms you will need to move forward with our grievance claims.