The Union and the Employer agree that it is in their best interest to resolve disputes at the earliest opportunity and at the lowest level. Whenever possible, disputes should be resolved informally prior to filing a formal written grievance. To that end, all supervisors and employees are encouraged to engage in free and open discussions about disputes.
24.1 Definition. A grievance, within the meaning of this Agreement, shall be defined as any dispute between the University and the Union, an employee, or a group of employees as to alleged misapplication or misinterpretation of the terms of this Agreement or the Employer's written personnel rules, policies or practices.
24.2 Employee Grievance Rights. Any employee who believes he/she has been aggrieved may personally seek relief from that condition by filing a grievance, irrespective of any supervisor's opinion of the grievance's validity. In the presentation of grievances, the employees shall be safe from restraint, interference, discrimination, or reprisal.
24.3. Employee Representation. The Union as exclusive representative of bargaining unit employees is the responsible representative of said employees in grievance matters. However, an employee may be self-represented or select a representative outside the Union membership for Steps One and Two. In such cases, the Union shall not be held liable for the results or costs of such outside representation and will be considered an interested party to the proceedings.
24.4 Time Limitations. An extension of the time limitations as stipulated in the respective steps below, may be obtained by mutual consent of the parties. Failure of the employee to comply with the time limitations without a request of time extension shall constitute withdrawal of the grievance. Failure of the Employer to comply with the time limitations without a request for time extension shall establish the right of the employee to proceed with Union concurrence to the next step of the grievance procedure. For the purpose of calculating time requirements, the first day shall be the day following the day on which the employee was aware, or reasonably should have been aware, of the issue giving rise to the grievance. Saturdays, Sundays, and University holidays shall be included in the calculation of days except that the final day may not be on a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday but will end at the close of the first working day following the Saturday, Sunday, or holiday.
24.5 Contents. The written grievance shall include the following information:
Failure to include the above information shall not be a reason for invalidating the grievance.
24.6 Pay Status – Meetings. Meetings and discussions on the grievance held with the Employer in connection with this grievance procedure shall normally be held during the University's regular business hours, or as mutually agreeable, and no deduction in pay status shall be made for the grievant or steward for reasonable time spent in such meetings or discussions during the employee's scheduled duty hours. The work schedule of the grievant will be seriously considered in the scheduling of the grievance meetings. Time off for employees and stewards shall be granted by supervision following a request, but in consideration of job responsibilities. If the requested time off cannot be granted, the parties shall arrange for time off at the earliest possible time thereafter.
24.7 Grievance Withdrawal. A grievance may be withdrawn by the Union in writing at any time, and if withdrawn shall not be resubmitted.
24.8 Resolution. If the Employer provides the requested remedy or a mutually agreed-upon alternative, the grievance will be considered resolved and may not be moved to the next step.
24.9 Consolidation. Grievances arising out of the same set of facts may be consolidated by written agreement.
24.10 Filing and Processing
a. Filing A grievance must be filed within thirty (30) days of the occurrence giving rise to the grievance, or the date the grievant knew or could reasonably have known of the occurrence. When possible the thirty (30) day periods above should be used to attempt to informally resolve the dispute. The union steward or staff representative will indicate when a discussion with the Employer is an attempt to informally resolve a dispute.
b. Alternative Resolution Methods Any time during the grievance process, by mutual consent, the parties may use alternative methods to resolve the dispute. If the parties agree to use alternative methods, the time frames in this Article are suspended. If the selected alternative method does not result in a resolution, the Union may return to the grievance process and the time frames resume. Any expenses and fees of alternative methods will be shared equally by the parties.
c. Processing The Union and the Employer agree that in-person meetings are preferred at all steps of the grievance process and will make efforts to schedule in-person meetings, if possible.
24.11 Steps of the Grievance Procedure. All grievances shall be processed in accordance with the following procedure. Upon mutual agreement, Step One, Two or Three may be skipped. Grievances over final counseling or dismissal will begin at Step Two.
Step One: Supervisor, Manager or Designee . If the issue is not resolved informally, the Union may file a written grievance to the supervisor or designee, and/or the Labor Relations office. The Employer will designate a supervisor, manager or designee who will meet in person or confer by telephone with a union steward and/or staff representative and the grievant. The date of the meeting will be mutually agreed upon within fifteen (15) calendar days of receipt of the grievance and when possible the meeting will take place within the aforementioned fifteen (15) calendar days. The format (face to face or by telephone) for the meeting will be by mutual agreement. The employer will respond in writing to the Union within fifteen (15) calendar days after the meeting. The Human Resources Consultant may also attend, if desired by the University. If the grievance is directed against the employee's immediate supervisor, the grievance may be presented to the next higher level of supervision. In the event the employee's immediate supervisor does not have authority to resolve the grievance, the grievance will be presented at the level having authority to act as determined by the Employer.
Step Two: If a satisfactory settlement is not reached in Step One, said grievance may be moved to the Step Two by filing the written grievance, including a copy of the Step One decision to department head, designee, or to the next appropriate level of management and the Office of Labor Relations within fifteen (15) calendar days after the decision from Step One. The date of the meeting will be mutually agreed upon within fifteen (15) calendar days after notice of the filing at Step Two and when possible the meeting will take place within the aforementioned fifteen (15) calendar days. The grievant may be represented by a steward and a Union staff representative. The University will be represented by the appropriate management official(s) or designee(s), a representative from the Office of Labor Relations, and a Human Resources Consultant, if desired by the University. The University will respond in writing within fifteen (15) calendar days after the meeting.
Step Three: Grievance Mediation. If the grievance is not resolved at the Step Two, the Union may file a request for mediation with the Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) in accordance with WAC 391-55-020, with a copy to the Labor Relations Office within thirty (30) days of receipt of the Step Two decision. In addition to all other filing requirements, the request must include a copy of the grievance and all previous responses. The Employer will inform the Union, in writing, and PERC within thirty (30) days of receipt of Mediation request if they are not in agreement.
If those services are unavailable on a timely basis, the parties may request a list of grievance mediators from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) or other agreed upon mediation provider. The cost of the mediation shall be borne equally by both parties.
Step Four: Arbitration. If a satisfactory settlement is not reached at the prior step, or the step was skipped, either of the signatory parties to this Agreement may submit the grievance to binding arbitration. Such submittal must be made within thirty (30) calendar days following the written notice that the employer does not agree to Step Three (3) Mediation or the conclusion of the prior step.
The parties agree to establish a permanent panel of ten (10) arbitrators. These arbitrators shall be assigned cases by the parties on a rotating basis. If the arbitrator is not available to hear the case within ninety (90) calendar days of the decision by either party to go to arbitration, the parties may contact the next arbitrator in the rotation. If no arbitrator can hear the case within ninety (90) calendar days, the case will be assigned to the arbitrator who can hear the case on the earliest date. If an individual arbitrator decides to remove his/her name from the panel or if one or more members of the panel are not continued by either party, the parties will meet to decide whether to substitute an additional name(s).
No later than seven (7) working days prior to the scheduled arbitration meeting, the parties will submit questions of arbitration eligibility to the arbitrator for preliminary determination, share the name of each witness intending to testify at the hearing, and attempt to agree upon the issue statement. A copy of written materials submitted to the arbitrator will be provided to the opposing party.
The parties agree that the arbitrator shall have no power to render a decision that adds to, subtracts from, alters or modifies in any way the terms and conditions of the Agreement. The parties further agree that the decision of the arbitrator will be final and binding upon all parties. The Union or the Employer will have the right to request the arbitrator to require the presence of witnesses and/or documents. The arbitrator's decision shall be made in writing and the arbitrator shall be encouraged to render the decision within thirty (30) calendar days of the close of the arbitration.
In cases where a grievance is moved to arbitration and the Employer did not agree to Step Three: Grievance Mediation, either party may request a pre-arbitration settlement conference. These conferences shall not delay the arbitration process, and may be held with or without the presence of the arbitrator, at the option of the moving party. In the event that an arbitrator is present, the cost of the arbitrator's participation shall be borne equally by the parties.
24.12 Arbitration Costs
Election of Remedies. Arbitrating a claim under this Article constitutes a waiver of the right to pursue the same claim before the EEOC, the Human Rights Commission, or in any other judicial or administrative law forum, Pursuit of a claim before any of these bodies or in any other judicial or quasi-judicial forum constitutes a waiver of the right to pursue the same claim through arbitration under this Article.
24.13 Files. Grievance documents shall be maintained separately from employee personnel files. Employee personnel files will accurately reflect the final outcome of a grievance.