ARTICLE 23. DISCIPLINE AND DISCHARGE
ARTICLE 23. DISCIPLINE AND DISCHARGE 23.1 Progressive Discipline . The principles of progressive discipline shall be used except when the nature of the problem requires more serious discipline or immediate action. Progressive discipline includes the following steps: (1) documented verbal warning; (2) written warning; (3) suspension without pay, pay reduction, withholding pay increase, demotion or final written warning; and (4) discharge. 23.1.1 Performance improvement plans . When a work plan is implemented as a corrective measure, it shall be considered the equivalent of a verbal warning in the progressive disciplinary process. Employees will be allowed a reasonable period of time to achieve elements of a work plan that do not require immediate correction. 23.1.2 Suspension of seniority rights . The Employer may in its discretion incorporate into an employee’s final written warning suspension of the employee’s seniority rights for one (1) year in no more than two of the following three contract areas: offering of overtime work (9.1.4), requesting vacation and holiday time off (12.4.3), and job bidding (18.1). 23.2 Just Cause . An employee may be disciplined or discharged only for just cause. The “Just Cause” standard is attached hereto and incorporated by reference under Appendix D. 23.3 Investigatory Interviews . The Employer has the right to conduct “investigatory” interviews by asking questions of an employee which only the employee may answer. The employee has the right to request, and shall be granted, Union representation at “investigatory” interviews where the employee reasonably believes the interview might result in disciplinary action. The employee may utilize another employee for this purpose. However, the choice of representative shall not unduly delay the meeting. 23.3.1 Notice . Investigatory interviews of an employee subject to discipline require thirty-six (36) hours’ advance notice, in writing (including by electronic communication) if reasonably possible, to the employee unless (1) there is reason to believe that the notice period would result in compromising of evidence or pose a risk to the safety of staff, patients, or other members of the public, or (2) the employee consents to waive the notice. The Employer will make a good-faith effort to provide a 36-hour notice that is exclusive of weekend and holiday hours. If the interview will be scheduled on off hours (7:00 p.m. through 7:00 a.m.), the Employer shall give the Union notice of the date and time of the meeting to assure a steward is available. The Union will not provide representation unless requested by the employee. If the Union’s efforts to secure representation are unsuccessful due to scheduling or unavailability of the steward at the top of the rotation list, the Employer agrees to release the on-call steward. 23.3.2 Conducting the interview . The Employer has the right to initially hear the employee’s own account of the matter under investigation. The Union representative has the right in the “investigatory” interview to clarify previous answers or to elicit further relevant information. 23.3.3 Other meetings distinguished . The Employer has the right without Union representation to hold work unit or departmental meetings, or to have conversations with employees as needed for giving instruction, training, or needed corrections of work techniques. The Employer also has the right to hold a disciplinary meeting or to engage in a discussion without Union representation when the meeting or discussion is for the sole purpose of informing an employee of a disciplinary decision and/or warning the employee of further discipline if the conduct in question continues. The Employer may permit a Union representative to attend any of the meetings or activities described in this paragraph at the Employer’s discretion if requested by the employee. 23.3.4 Electronic recording . The Employer is not required to permit electronic recording of any meeting described in this article. Nor is an employee allowed to electronically record any such meeting without the approval of the Employer. 23.3.5 When attendance is the issue . In the event the Employer is contemplating issuing a verbal or written warning for attendance-related concerns, the Employer may, in lieu of its frequent practice of conducting an investigatory interview, notify the employee in writing of the concern regarding attendance and invite the employee (1) to respond in writing within 14 days with or without the assistance of a Union steward, (2) to request an investigatory meeting, or (3) to decline to do either. The Employer thereafter will determine whether disciplinary action is warranted. a. Each work unit will be subject to a recognized attendance policy. An employee coached or disciplined for attendance-related concerns will be provided a copy of the applicable policy. b. Progressive discipline for attendance may be triggered by three (3) occurrences in a 90-day period. Progressive discipline thereafter will be applied not on the basis of a no-fault grid, but in accordance with criteria and definitions developed by the Employer. c. Any issue regarding consistency of treatment for attendance-related discipline (see question no. 6 under Appendix D – Just Cause Standard) will be evaluated on a work unit basis. 23.4 Pre-Discharge Notice . A written pre-discharge notice shall be given to a regular status employee against whom a charge is presented which might result in discharge. Such notice shall include the known complaints, facts and charges, and a statement that the employee may be discharged. It shall be forwarded to the Union on the same day the employee is notified. The employee shall be afforded an opportunity to refute such charges or present mitigating circumstances to the Employer at a time and date set forth in the notice, which date shall not be less than seven (7) calendar days from the date the notice is received. The employee is entitled to have an official representative present. At the discretion of the Employer, the employee may be suspended with or without pay or be allowed to continue to work, as specified within the pre-discharge notice. The Employer shall not cause any employee to be placed on administrative leave without pay in excess of fourteen (14) days pending a pre-discharge hearing decision unless the hearing is postponed at the request of either the employee or the Union. The Employer shall not be obligated for any payroll expenses resulting from administrative leave without pay during the period of any such postponement. 23.5 Issuance of Disciplinary Action . It is the intent of the parties that notice of disciplinary action, notice of a pre-discharge meeting or notice that no action will be taken, will issue no later than twenty-one (21) days from the date of an investigatory meeting except in circumstances where a complex investigation is required. Any disciplinary action taken against an employee will be communicated in a manner that is not likely to embarrass or humiliate the employee in front of other employees or the public. 23.6 Unauthorized Absences . Any unauthorized absence of an employee from duty may constitute grounds for disciplinary action. Unauthorized absences include but are not limited to no-call no-shows. Any employee who absents himself/herself for three (3) consecutive workdays or five (5) total workdays during a twelve (12) month period without authorized leave shall be deemed to have resigned. Such absence may be authorized by the Employer by a subsequent approval of leave with or without pay, when extenuating circumstances are found to have existed. An employee will be provided, upon request, an opportunity to explain extenuating circumstances. In the event the employee’s absence of three (3) consecutive workdays is accompanied by failure to notify, the supervisor shall make one (1) reasonable attempt to confirm the employee’s welfare by placing a telephone call to the last known number prior to the resignation. This demonstration of concern will not serve to extend the employee’s job protection rights. 23.7 Limits on Pay Reductions . Reductions in pay shall not exceed either a reduction of three percent (3%) for six (6) pay periods or a reduction of six percent (6%) for three (3) pay periods. 23.8 Transmissions to Union . All notices of pre-discharge hearings, suspension, pay reduction, demotion, final written warning and discharge shall be delivered to the Union electronically on the same day that the employee is notified. In the event that the Employer fails to provide notification as discussed above, the Union will promptly notify the Employer of such failure as soon as the Union becomes aware of it. Should the Employer fail to notify the Union of a pre-discharge meeting, the Union may request the meeting be rescheduled in order to secure union representation for the employee. In such event, the meeting will be rescheduled pursuant to Article 23.4, as if the Union received notice on the day that the Union provides notification to the Employer. Should the Employer fail to notify the Union of suspension, pay reduction, demotion, final written warning and discharge, timelines shall be suspended pending union notification to the Employer.
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