Procedures for filing a grievance
When you are in the worksite serving as a steward, it will not be uncommon for co-workers to come to your desk to ask questions about the contract or to ask about filing a grievance. If you are in the middle of some work that needs to get done or it is not a good time for you, you should not feel hesitant to request an appointment so that your schedule is not disrupted.
After you are trained as a steward, you are, of course, not expected to know all the answers to questions about the contract. You should not hesitate to ask for assistance from a MAPE business agent or your Chief Steward any time a question is not clear or if the answer is not readily apparent. You can simply tell the person that you will get answers to his/her questions and get back to them. If you feel it would be more expedient, you may simply have them call the MAPE office for further assistance.
When you have been given information that appears to be a contract violation, you should not hesitate to call for assistance to determine what contract article(s) should be cited and to get the facts documented for the Business Agent to easily file the grievance within the allotted time frame.
A formal grievance will be given a MAPE internal system generated identification number at the time the Business Agent files the grievance.
There is more than one type of grievance:
- Informal: an employee who has a grievance may (or have a steward) bring it to the supervisor’s attention orally indicating that it is a grievance. If the matter cannot be resolved in this manner, it should immediately be taken to the formal process. This informal process does not change the timelines for filing a formal grievance.
- Formal: the grievance is formalized by reducing it to writing and having been filed by the business agent with the appropriate supervisory person and HR. This filing must occur within the 21-calendar-day timelines as described in Article 9. This action will begin the 10-calendar-day employer timeline for responding to a grievance meeting request.
What happens if the employer does not respond?
- If the employer fails or refuses to respond to a meeting request within ten (10) days, the union can conclude that the grievance is denied at that level and move the grievance to the next step. It is wise to keep a tickler file to remind you when the ten (10) calendar days expire.
- When the union concludes, after ten (10) calendar days that the grievance is denied, it then has ten (10) days to move it to the next level. This is done by presenting or mailing the grievance form to the next appropriate level supervisor, i.e., central personnel office, warden, local personnel office, chancellor, executive director, commissioner.
Grievance fact sheet:
It is important to note that you are only asked to conduct responsibilities which you are comfortable with. You will not be expected to handle issues without assistance. Whenever you want the chief steward or another more experienced steward or the business agent to help, assistance will be provided upon your request.
In many cases the business agent will become involved in all grievances at the second level, but many stewards do write and present the arguments at this level with the Business Agent present. This is important because many grievances at this level have the potential to be appealed to arbitration. The information gathered at this meeting is important for that process.
If the grievance is denied at the second (2nd) step, it then may be appealed to arbitration. The agency file on this matter is then transferred out of the agency to Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB). It generally takes at least thirty (30) days for the Employee Relations representative to receive and review the documents.
The process of negotiating a settlement between the agency and the grievant begins with the Business Agent acting as the intermediary for the grievant and the MMB representative on behalf of the agency. Arbitration becomes an option if a settlement cannot be reached and negotiation breaks down.
Data practices and access to investigation reports by stewards
The Minnesota Government Data Practices Act can be found in statute: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=13 .
MAPE’s procedures for accessing investigatory reports are as follows:
- The Steward of Record shall be entitled to data relating to a member’s grievance. The steward may have to sign an agency stipulation regarding protecting the confidentiality of the data if the data is obtained directly from the agency. MMB provides direction to agencies on these issues. A template stipulation agreement can be found here as well as MMB's policy on releasing data to union representatives: http://www.mmb.state.mn.us/doc/persl/1412.pdf.
- If the arbitration team decides to not pursue a grievance to arbitration and the member appeals to the Employee Rights Committee (ERC), a copy of the investigative report (may or may not be redacted) may be included in the background material distributed to the ERC for the appeal.
- A member has the right to request a copy of his/her investigative report from the employer and will have the opportunity to review the report and provide response to all issues raised. The agency will probably provide only the investigation material relating to the member and may exclude witness testimony or redact witness testimony. The member may view MAPE’s copy of the investigation report (which may be redacted) but will not be allowed to have a copy of MAPE’s material. The Steward of Record’s copy of the report also cannot be reproduced.
- Investigative reports are to be maintained by staff and the steward of record and will not be distributed, except in the case of an appeal to the ERC (See No. 2 above).
- Investigative Reports may be redacted by the Employer, or MAPE, as deemed necessary to protect confidentiality.
- Chief Stewards who are not the agent of record for a specific grievant may discuss the matter(s) with the Steward of Record and/or business agent, and will be provided a copy of the investigative report on request. On closure (settlement or, arbitration award) all investigative reports will be returned to the Business Agent of record.