Definitions of labor relations terms
ARBITRATION – A formal hearing of a grievance by an independent third party (an arbitrator) who is empowered by the parties to the grievance to resolve the grievance. The arbitration normally involves the testifying of witnesses, the presentation of evidence, and advocacy by the union and state advocates (business agents and Labor Relations Representatives). (See also expedited arbitration)
ARBITRATION TEAM – The team is comprised of the MAPE Business Agents, the Executive Director, the Chair of the Employee Rights Committee and the steward of record for the grievance under discussion. The Team discusses current grievances as to merit and arbitrability and votes on whether or not to proceed to arbitration.
ARBITRATOR – An independent third party who conducts arbitrations and/or expedited arbitrations. He/she is empowered to resolve grievances that have been brought before him/her.
AWARD – In labor/management arbitration, the final decision of an arbitrator, often binding on both parties to the dispute.
BARGAINING UNIT – The group of employees determined by the Legislature to be performing work of a similar level of responsibility and requiring similar levels of decision-making. MAPE is the exclusive bargaining representative for the professional-level bargaining unit (214). The unit comprises both fee-payer and dues- paying members of the unit, and represents its members in negotiating the terms and conditions of employment with the state and in enforcing the contract rights of all the members of the unit.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS – The body of MAPE regional directors and the statewide officers of MAPE who meet regularly to conduct the business of MAPE.
BUREAU OF MEDIATION SERVICES (BMS) – BMS is a Minnesota state agency that provides mediators for negotiations between most unions and employers within the state of Minnesota (public and private). It is charged with determining which of the state’s bargaining units a new job classification should properly be assigned to. This determination occurs as a result of BMS holding a Unit Determination Hearing.
BUSINESS AGENT – Persons hired by MAPE to provide professional advocacy skills in the handling of grievances and members' rights. Business agents also serve on the MAPE Arbitration Team.
COLLECTIVE BARGAINING – The process of negotiating a contract and enforcing the contract through the grievance procedure. This written contract normally covers all employees in the bargaining unit – members and fee payers.
CONTRACT – A labor agreement between management and employees that clearly states the rights, terms and conditions, benefits, wages and conflict resolution processes available to and mutually agreed upon by both parties.
CONTRACTING OUT – A practice of the employer having work performed by an outside contractor and not by regular employees in the bargaining unit.
MMB – Minnesota Management and Budget, the department that handles state employee relations for the state of Minnesota including representing the State of Minnesota in negotiation and administration of collective bargaining agreements and labor plans.
DUTY OF FAIR REPRESENTATION – A standard which the Supreme Court requires of unions in their advocacy for employees. It basically states that unions must provide adequate advocacy for both fee payer and members of the unions in negotiations and the grievance-handling processes. It states that those unions should treat their members fairly in their advocacy activities.
EMPLOYEE RIGHTS COMMITTEE (ERC) – A MAPE group composed of the chief stewards from each region. The ERC hears appeals by grievants who have been notified by the Arbitration Team that their grievance is being recommended to be dropped/withdrawn. The group also provides advice to the decision-making bodies of MAPE on grievance handling processes and training.
EXPEDITED ARBITRATION – A shorter version of a regular arbitration. It will be used when questions of fact are the basis of the grievance, when many items may be stipulated to by the parties, and when there is not a clear interpretation of the meaning of the contract language at issue in the grievance.
FEE PAYER – A state employee covered by the MAPE contract who chooses to have non- member status and pays 85% of dues. Fee payers are entitled to full representation in grievance handling and in the negotiations process. They cannot vote, be a steward, serve on a committee or run for office at any level.
FRINGE BENEFITS – All non-wage benefits in a union contract such as paid holidays, paid vacation, insurance and pensions, which are paid in whole or part by the employer.
GOOD FAITH BARGAINING – All parties in the negotiations process must come to the table with open minds and flexible positions. If a party brings an unwavering position they are not bargaining in good faith.
GRIEVANCE – A dispute or disagreement as to the interpretation or application of any term or terms of the MAPE contract. It is a complaint based upon a violation of an employee’s rights. The form on which the complaint is established in writing is sometimes known as the grievance.
INVESTIGATION – Employers have the authority to conduct investigations which may lead to discipline. Employees have the right to have a Union Steward/Business Agent present during such investigations. If an employee’s discipline was based on questions asked by the supervisor or other agent of the state, and a union representative was requested and not present, the contractual rights of the employee have been violated.
JOB ACTION – Any activity that is used by union members to demonstrate their views to management. A job action can be anything from a solidarity activity, like wearing a certain color clothing on a certain day or working to rule, to a strike.
JUST CAUSE – There are seven tenets (tests) of just cause that Arbitrators have recognized as being relevant criteria for determining whether there is a basis for imposing discipline on an employee. The MAPE contract does not stipulate for just cause standards to be in place for an employee to be placed on investigatory leave, but the employer must have “a reasonable basis” to do so. The full definition of “reasonable basis” is continuing to be enunciated through grievance action and negotiations.
LABOR RELATIONS REPRESENTATIVE – An employee of MMB who provides Labor Relations advice to the various departments of the state. The Labor Relations Representative is typically the individual who provides the advocacy of the departments in an arbitration as the union’s Business Agent does for the union.
MANAGEMENT CLAUSE – A provision in the collective bargaining agreement that sets out the scope of management rights, functions and responsibilities. The clause sets forth those functions of management that are not subject to collective bargaining.
MEDIATOR – A mediator helps parties to resolve differences during a negotiations process in which the parties are at impasse (no progress). The Bureau of Mediation Services employs mediators.
NOTICE OF STRIKE – According to State Law, MAPE must file for mediation with the Bureau of Mediation Services, allow 45 days to transpire from that date, and then file a written notice to terminate the continuing contract 10 days before the actual termination date before a strike can be implemented.
PAST PRACTICE – If the language of the contract is unambiguous, the past practices of the parties do not override the language of the contract. An arbitrator could rule that the language must rule and the past practice be discontinued. If the language is unclear or ambiguous, an arbitrator could use the past practice arguments of the advocates to determine what the parties had agreed the language actually meant. SCAB – A union term for a worker who refuses to go out on strike with his coworkers. It is also used to describe a worker who is hired to replace a striking worker.
SENIORITY – A worker’s length of service with an employer or within a classification. Seniority is often used to determine layoffs, promotions, recalls or transfers.
STEP 1 GRIEVANCE – The presentation between advocates for the union and the supervisor of the grievant, to attempt to resolve a grievance. If the grievance is denied at Step 1, we move to step 2.
STEP 2 GRIEVANCE – The presentation between advocates for the union and Commissioner’s Designee, usually the Human Resource Division, to attempt to resolve a grievance. If the grievance is denied at Step 2, the grievance comes before the Arbitration Team for a decision on arbitration.
STEWARD – A voluntary position within MAPE and most unions. A Steward is trained to represent all MAPE bargaining unit employees with respect to investigations, filing and presenting grievances and advocating on their behalf.
TIMELINE – There are requirements in the MAPE contract regarding when grievances are properly filed with reference to when a grievable issue occurred and when responses were made to the grievance meetings. An Arbitrator could rule against the union’s grievance if the union’s representatives do not adhere to the time lines.
WORK–TO–RULE – Following the labor agreement – enforced to the letter, i.e., coming in exactly at starting time, taking all appropriate breaks, including lunch, on time and leaving exactly on time.
ZIPPER CLAUSE – A clause in the collective bargaining agreement considered to denote waiver of the right of either party to require the other to bargain on any matter not covered in an agreement during the life of a contract, thus limiting the terms and conditions of employment to those set forth in the contract.