ARTICLE 24. GRIEVANCES AND ARBITRATION
ARTICLE 24. GRIEVANCES AND ARBITRATION 24.1 Grievance Procedure . The parties encourage supervisors and employees to solve issues among themselves at the earliest possible time, preferably prior to initiating a grievance. The employee and supervisor may agree in writing to extend the formal grievance filing deadline. 24.1.1 Grievance defined . A grievance is defined as any dispute arising out of or concerning the application, meaning or interpretation of this Agreement. 24.1.2 Time extensions . No extension of any time limit set forth in this Section 24.1 may occur without the written agreement of both parties. Failure of an employee or the Union to meet a time limit shall constitute withdrawal of the grievance. Failure of the Employer to meet a time limit shall constitute an automatic progression of the grievance to the next step. 24.1.3 Union representation . Once an employee files a grievance, the employee shall not be required to discuss the subject matter of the grievance without the presence of a Union representative. 24.1.4 Grievances of specific matters . Grievances involving the following specific matters shall be submitted as follows: a. Grievances involving the appeal of a reclassification matter shall be filed with the designated Compensation Manager in Human Resources at Step 2 in the grievance process. b. Grievances involving the application of insurance benefits shall be filed with the Benefits Manager in Human Resources. c. Grievances involving layoff, suspension without pay, reduction in pay, demotion, final written warning or discharge shall be submitted to Human Resources at Step 2 in the grievance process. The Union has the right to appeal such disciplinary action within twenty-one (21) days of the effective date of the action. However, in the case of suspension during a period of pre-disciplinary investigation, the appeal must be made within twenty-one (21) days of the action, if any, which results from the pre-disciplinary investigation. d. A verbal warning shall not be grievable. The verbal warning shall be placed in the employee’s file and the employee may respond in writing to the warning, which shall also be placed in the employee’s file. If, however, an employee receives a written warning pertaining to a related issue within one (1) year following receipt of the prior verbal warning, both warnings may be grieved collectively. 24.1.5 Grievance steps. STEP 1 The employee or the Union on the employee’s behalf shall file a grievance on an official Grievance form no later than twenty-one (21) days following the date of the alleged contract violation or the date the employee first knew or should have known of the alleged contract violation. The grievance must cite the specific contract article believed to have been misapplied or violated and a specific remedy to adjust for any such discrepancy. The grievance shall be filed with the immediate supervisor and the appropriate Department Director, or designee thereof, with a copy sent to Human Resources and to the Union if an employee is filing the grievance without the assistance of the Union. When a grievance alleges an identical contract violation arising involving at least three (3) supervisors who are directly responsible to a common supervisor, the common supervisor shall be considered the immediate supervisor. In the event that the appropriate Department Director is not properly identified, providing a copy to Human Resources will be deemed to satisfy the Step 1 filing deadline. The Union may also file a limited request for information within seven (7) days of the step 1 filing. Such a request shall be limited to items in the grievant’s personnel file or grievant’s attendance records. The parties shall meet at the earliest opportunity and attempt to develop a mutually acceptable solution, with the aid of a problem-solving worksheet in non-disciplinary cases. The meeting may be attended by a Union steward at the employee’s request and/or a Human Resources representative at the supervisor’s or Department Director’s request. If a solution is reached at this or a subsequent meeting, it shall be reduced to writing and signed by all parties involved in the discussion, with a copy sent to Human Resources and the Union. If a solution is not reached, the Director or designee shall respond to the grievance in writing within seven (7) days of the meeting and provide such response to the employee and the designated Union representative. Failure to respond in a timely manner shall be considered a denial of the grievance. Solutions reached without the involvement and agreement of the Union or Human Resources are subject to review and agreement at the parties’ discretion and shall become precedent setting only upon the agreement of the Union and Human Resources. STEP 2 If the Union desires to advance the grievance to Step 2, it must notify Human Resources in writing within fourteen (14) days of the due date for receiving the Employer’s Step 1 written response. If the Union wishes to submit a request for information to the Employer, it shall submit the request within seven (7) days after advancing the grievance to Step 2. Information requests shall be limited to information that directly relates either to the specific allegations of the grievance or to assertions contained in the Employer’s Step 1 response. The Employer shall respond to the information request within 21 days after receiving the request. The Union shall coordinate the scheduling of a Step 2 meeting within fourteen (14) days after receiving the Employer’s response to the information request. If the Union does not submit an information request, the Union shall coordinate the scheduling of a meeting within 14 days after advancing the grievance to Step 2. The Employer shall provide a written response at Step 2 within 14 days following the Step 2 meeting. STEP 3 Submission to arbitration. If the Union desires to advance the grievance to arbitration, it must provide written notification to Human Resources within thirty (30) days of the due date for receiving the Employer’s Step 2 written response. The parties shall endeavor to have completed Steps 1-3 of the grievance process within one hundred and sixty (160) days following the date of the alleged contract violation or the date the employee first knew or should have known of the alleged contract violation. Expedited arbitrations. All grievances involving disciplinary action of a written warning or combined verbal/written warnings (as distinguished from disciplinary action described in Section 24.1.4.c) shall be subject to an expedited arbitration process in lieu of the arbitration process set forth in Section 24.2. Expedited arbitrations shall be heard on an as-needed basis before an arbitrator selected by the parties from a standing short list. The presentation of evidence and argument shall be subject to time restrictions that the parties mutually establish. Neither party shall utilize outside counsel to present its case. Briefs shall not be filed. The arbitrator shall render his or her decision immediately following each party’s presentation of its case. The decision shall be final and binding on the parties. The arbitrator’s fee and expenses shall be borne equally between the parties. All other grievances that are submitted for arbitration shall be subject to the provisions of Section 24.2, unless the parties mutually agree to submit the grievance to this expedited arbitration process. 24.2 Arbitration. 24.2.1 Selection . Within forty-five (45) days of the due date for submittal of the request to arbitrate, the Union and the Employer shall select an arbitrator from a panel of seven (7) arbitrators requested from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. The parties commit to scheduling said arbitration within four (4) months of the arbitrator’s selection. If the Union makes no written attempt to contact the Employer or the arbitrator within the four-month period, the grievance shall be deemed to have been withdrawn by the Union. 24.2.2 Authority . The arbitrator shall have the authority to hear and rule on all issues which arise over substantive or procedural arbitrability. Such issues, if raised, must be heard prior to hearing the merits of any appeal to arbitration, pursuant to Article 24.2.3. The arbitrator shall have no authority to rule contrary to, to amend, add to, subtract from, change or eliminate any of the terms of this Agreement. 24.2.3 Bifurcation . Upon motion by either party to bifurcate the hearing on procedural or substantive arbitrability issues, the arbitrator will issue a decision on the arbitrability issue after the parties brief the issue in writing (i.e., without a hearing). The arbitrator will issue the decision on the arbitrability issue a reasonable time in advance of any potential hearing on the merits. 24.2.4 Award final and binding . The parties agree that the decision or award of the arbitrator shall be final and binding on each of the parties. 24.2.5 Expenses of arbitration . The arbitrator fee and expenses shall be paid by the losing party. If, in the opinion of the arbitrator, neither party can be considered the losing party, then such expenses shall be apportioned as deemed equitable in the arbitrator’s judgment. All other expenses shall be borne exclusively by the party requiring the service or item for which payment is to be made. 24.3 Release Time . A grievant shall be allowed a total of four (4) hours of release time to prepare for an expedited arbitration hearing under Section 24.1.5 or an arbitration hearing under Section 24.2. Two (2) of these hours shall be paid release. For the remaining two (2) hours, the employee shall be granted unpaid time off or, upon approval by his or her supervisor, may use vacation time or compensatory time or make up the time during the applicable work week.
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