TO GRIEVE OR NOT TO GRIEVE, THAT IS THE QUESTION!
To file a grievance can often be a difficult decision to make. According to contract, Article III, 3.1, “a grievance shall mean a complaint by a teacher or the Association that there has been an alleged violation, misinterpretation, or misapplication of any provision of this Agreement.”
Here are some common questions to ask yourself:
Q: What part of the contract do I feel has been violated, misinterpreted, or misapplied?
A: Check your contract! Please write down the article or mark the contract where you feel the infraction has occurred. ARs should have a copy of the contract or go to the SEA website at http://www.springfieldeducation.org. There are contract areas that you can click on. If you need help interpreting the contract or area, please notify your AR, one of the grievance committee members, the SEA President or the IEA UniServ Director.
Q: What were the circumstances of the violation? Did it happen more than once? Who was involved?
A: The important thing to do is document using dates, people involved, and circumstances. In the case of an evaluation, please contact your AR, the SEA President, or IEA UniServ Director immediately after receiving copy.
Q: Have I made any efforts to discuss the violation with the person or persons I feel have violated my contractual rights?
A: This is always the tough question! Many members are afraid to “rock the boat” that they may get poor evaluations or some other consequence by filing grievances. The contract states in Article III, 3.5 that “A teacher who participates in these grievance procedures shall not be subjected to discipline or reprisal from any source because of such participation.”
If you have made contact with that person, please document the conversation or write notes soon after. If the conversation did not remedy the problem or you are uncomfortable in addressing the person by yourself, please call or speak with your AR, the SEA President, or IEA UniServ Director.
Q: I did not get anywhere with my conversation, nothing was done to remedy the problem, or I still need some advice. What do I do next?
A: Please make contact with your AR, the SEA President, or IEA UniServ Director to express your concern. They will discuss with you the process the grievance committee will go through and whether it is determined that there was a contract violation.
Q: What is the process and what do I have to do?
A: The number one thing to do is document dates, circumstances and who was involved. Another request is to start this process early, by asking yourself questions 1-3. Do not let violations continue to build up. You have enough stress in daily professional duties! Go to question 4. If there are other people considering filing the same complaint, get together and discuss what you have done thus far.
Q: When do I contact the grievance committee?
A: You may be asked to attend a grievance meeting (3rd Tuesday of each month, 4:15, SEA/IEA office) to discuss the complaint. The committee will consider areas of the contract that may have been violated. As stated in 3.4 of our contract, “Except as is necessary, proceedings shall be kept informal and confidential.”
The committee will begin to investigate the contract violation. We will contact the parties involved in the complaint to discuss the violations that may have occurred and possible solutions. (3.6 -Teacher Rights and Representation) This is a Level I grievance. There is a 90 day timeline once some violation has occurred to attempt to resolve the problem by informal discussion with the complainant and his/her immediate supervisor or whomever the problem is with. Once the informal discussions have occurred, there is a written response requested within 10 days. Many grievances end in resolution at this level.
Q: What if I decide to withdraw my grievance?
A: According to contract, 3.9 Withdrawing grievances–A grievance may be withdrawn at any level without establishing precedence.
Q: Who are the members of the Grievance Committee?
- Dawn Swaggerty: Grievance Co-Chair (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Tim Ruyle: Grievance Co-Chair (email@example.com)
- Mary VonLiski (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Laura Spinner (email@example.com)
- Stephanie Kincaid (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Sarah Beveridge (email@example.com)
- Spring Shaon (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Sean Burns: UniServ Director (email@example.com)
- Aaron Graves: SEA President (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The grievance process must be started within 90 days of the time the member knew or should have known of the incident.