I remember my first Union job. I was given a copy of the “collective bargaining agreement” and I didn’t have a clue as to what it said, how it affected my wages, working conditions or benefits and I didn’t spend too much time reading it either. To this day all I remember was “flipping” through it yes literally just flipping through it. I couldn’t tell you anything about it then and sure in the heck can’t remember anything now. So I’ve decided that perhaps it’s a good idea to help members old and new regardless of their job classification understand their CBA or “contract”. I also believe that an educated membership in regards to their CBA is a stronger membership. It is a good idea for you as a member to try to understand your contract and how it affects your working conditions and benefits, as well as how it affects other Union members around you. There are many members who rely totally on the voices or opinions of others who themselves may be misinformed or even have their own agenda. But, that is not to say that there are “many” members that are pretty savvy in their understanding of the CBA also. The bottom line is; if you’re reading your contract and find something you don’t understand or how or why the verbiage came to be, ask a Local 758 Executive Board Officer or Shop Steward. Posted on the Union bulletin boards are pictures of the Union Officers and Stewards and the Organizational chart with contact information. If they can’t respond to your question(s) or are unsure of the answer, they will contact me or you can do the same. That is the #1 reason we give you our contact information the first day we meet with you. Remember it’s your Union and the contract governs your working conditions at your property.
First let’s bust the old “myth” that if you’re a probationary employee the Union cannot represent you. If you take out your contract and turn to page 1, you will see Article 2 -Recognition and Bargaining Unit. What it states is; the Employer hereby recognizes the Union as the exclusive collective bargaining representative…….your representative. If you have been hired since my time in office, we have continuously emphasized many times in the “Union orientations” your right to Union representation if you are involved in an investigatory or disciplinary meeting or both. (You also have the right to ask the Manager if it is either a disciplinary or investigatory meeting). In addition we have given you Weingarten Rights cards to carry with you if you happen to be involved in such a situation. You have a right as a Union member to contact a Shop Steward, Executive Board Officer or this office “prior” to making a statement to PT management. Why is this important, because you are at-will employees and your Union representative more likely than not, has knowledge of past practices by the agency and the treatment of other members in the same or a similar situation that you may find yourself.
If you read the last newsletter April 2016 (atu758.org), you would realize that we (Union) represented you as probationary, and/or trainee employees/members “before” you ever set foot on Pierce Transit property or became a member of ATU Local 758, why would we not represent you now?
To clarify for the newer members and others who may be confused regarding the whole representation question; what we (Union) cannot do is file a “grievance” on behalf of a member while he/she is in a probationary status. There is a significant difference between Union representation and filing a “grievance”.
Now if you’ll if you turn to pages 4 - 6, Article 8 - Grievance Procedure Paragraph B, you will find the definition of a grievance. A “grievance” is a claim by the Union that the terms of the agreement have been violated and a dispute exist concerning the application or interpretation of the agreement. The verbiage also states and what is advantageous to all parties involved; an attempt to resolve the grievance at the lowest level.
There are two (2) types of grievances; Paragraph C. – Disputes involving contract interpretations. The fact of the matter is that if a grievance is filed regarding contract interpretation or implementation it more than likely affects a past practice, multiple members, or has an impact on a certain workgroup. “A grievance involving a CBA “contract” issue can be filed at any time by the Union on your behalf”. Also shown are the timelines and different steps involved in resolving the grievance. Paragraph D.- Disputes Involving disciplinary action. When a grievance is filed involving disciplinary action, it is usually the result of an Employer (PT) action that has resulted in more likely than not a suspension, issuance or alleged violation of a “decision making” agreement, demotion, or loss of employment (termination). You will note the steps involving the two different types of grievances are different. Failure through the grievance process to resolve either type of grievance can result in the Union’s right to appeal to arbitration. The steps in the arbitration procedure are found on page 6, Paragraph E. - Arbitration Procedure. This section addresses the selection of the Arbitrator, meeting/hearing protocol, power and jurisdiction of the arbitrator, and any limitations on the subject submitted to arbitration. Some members may have been assessed for arbitrations. The assessment to pay for the arbitration to include attorney fees, lost time for Officer and member participation/interviews and witness preparation to name a few items, (arbitrator fees and all expenditures are split 50/50 with management) is per the guidelines of the 2013 International Constitution and General Laws (Section 21.15).
To mitigate harm to probationary members who do not have access to the grievance procedure, your Union in past negotiations was able to reduce the probationary period from 9 months to 6 months with the caveat that the Employer has the right to extend the probationary period for an additional 3 month period to 9 months. The extension could be for a performance issue that for a fulltime employee/member could rise to the level of a grievance. (A written reminder not set by precedent).
If there are other Articles or portions of the contract you would like for me to explain via the newsletter please let me know. My email address: firstname.lastname@example.org ………Thanks.
Relief Operator Schedules
This is an issue that I have been addressing for years. I have brought this to the attention of no less than eight (8) different VP’s and Directors of Operations, and Transportation Managers to include the present administration. They (Managers) have come and gone but the issue remains the same; that is to better the working conditions of the Relief Operators. In the past I was able to introduce 30 hour packaged work for the Reliefs. This was the closest a Relief Operator could come to normalcy. The Relief Operators loved the work. The Dispatchers knew they could rely on the Operators with the fixed schedules and the work was always filled with less absenteeism. The biggest bonus for Operators was having a consistent sleep pattern and lifestyle. However, due to certain PT operational issues they were discontinued after I left office. I have promoted the idea again and will continue to advocate for improved working conditions. My understanding is there is interest by PT management, but we’ll see.
I have also pursued the idea of AM/PM Relief Operator schedules but at that particular time PT management didn’t seem to have the heart for that either. Perhaps the incoming Director of Service Delivery will be willing to not only look at the quality of the service delivered but, “the quality of life of the Operators who deliver the service”. I will continue this discussion with the incoming Director because as I watch the new Operators who come into the agency with smiles and optimism on their faces, it doesn’t take very long before those very same faces start showing the signs of stress and strain caused by inconsistent work hours, sleep loss/deprivation, and flat-out fatigue. It is very disheartening to me and I cannot understand PT management’s refusal to address the issue. It is common knowledge that when you’re fatigued and exhausted because of sleep loss/deprivation and stress due to inconsistent work hours and tight runs, it is a precursor to increased accidents.
It has long been proven that driving under the aforementioned conditions is comparable to the effects of driving intoxicated. Your Union will continue to pursue this situation. Why doesn’t the agency want to?
DRINK PLENTY OF FLUIDS AND BE SURE TO USE THE COMFORT STATIONS & RESTROOMS. FAILURE TO DO SO MAY AFFECT YOUR HEALTH AND THE SAFETY OF BOTH YOU AND YOUR PASSENGERS!!!!