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Steward’s Corner

By Lead Steward, Nick Sloss

Mutual Respect

Jamie Moffit, the University’s Senior Vice President, was recently quoted as saying, “Title matters, salary matters, but what really keeps someone in their job is their relationship with their supervisor.” Our contract and internal policies and standards should ensure that everyone is treated respectfully on the job. But we all know, sometimes that isn’t the case with our supervisors. Stewards are regularly called into Weingartens for classifieds over violations of respectful workplace standards, but the mutuality of the Article 64: Mutual Respect clause often seems to only be enforced one way. I want to let you know that those policies/articles apply to all employees of the University, including your boss. If you or a coworker, or all of your coworkers, believe that your boss is engaging in behaviors that could be seen as violations of these standards, please reach out to the steward’s hotline so that we can help you make an official complaint regarding this activity to the Chief Human Resources Officer. Additionally, all supervisors and managers are considered “mandatory reporters”, which means that if you believe that your boss has engaged in activity that could be considered discriminatory, retaliatory and/or harassing in any way, if you report it to their supervisor, it must be reported to the Office of Investigations and Civil Rights Compliance (or OICRC) for follow up. Disrespectful bully bosses are something none of us should tolerate, so don’t hesitate to reach out to the Steward’s Hotline (541-346-0321) for help on matters of being respected in the workplace.

What is a Grievance?

Every few years, the SEIU Higher Education Bargaining Team bargains our employment contract with management. When a member violates the terms of the contract, management cites an employee with disciplinary action. When management violates the terms of the contract, we file a grievance. Simply put, a grievance is a formal notification and attempt at resolution of a contract violation. Stewards are here to help you with all of your contractual enforcement needs, not just discipline. Contract violations come in many shapes and forms. The most common contract violations are pay disputes, working conditions and workload, and “just cause” disciplinary conflicts. You can read more about just cause here.

A number of resolutions can be sought through processes laid out in your contract and for which your stewards have been trained to help you through. You can help us identify contract violations simply by getting to know your contract. Your stewards are the contractual experts on campus and can help you determine whether management has violated the contract, but simply familiarizing yourself with the table of contents will clue you in on whether your particular issue is covered in our collective bargaining agreement. Our contract can be found here. Your stewards can also provide hard copies of the contract upon request and help guide you through articles and how they pertain to your workplace problems. The stewards hotline number is 541-346-0321, and we’re happy to help.

Weingarten Rights

The number one right I want everyone in the workplace to know about!

Do you know about your Weingarten rights? A landmark 1975 court case, J. Weingarten Inc. vs The National Labor Relations Board, resulted in the right to union representation in any meeting which you reasonably believe may result in your discipline. This means that if your boss calls you into their office and begins to interrogate you, accuse you, or excessively degrade your work, then you can legally, and without repercussions or retaliation, Stop the meeting, Refuse to answer questions, and Demand that you have a steward with you. 

Too often in our workplaces, bosses overstep their managerial rights, and single out workers to accuse them of workplace misconduct, or worse, call them into a Weingarten meeting that may actually result in their discipline. Stewards are here to help. The Steward hotline (541-346-0321) is your ticket to representatives who know the contract, who have been trained in the proper representation and your workplace rights, and who confer with other stewards on how best to proceed in helping people. We’re here for everything from questions about the contract, help with filing grievances and official complaints, to representation in disciplinary meetings, and hearing your issues in the workplace. 

So, to reiterate, invoking your Weingarten Right is as easy as saying: “I believe this meeting may result in a disciplinary action and request to have my steward present before answering any questions” or, “I want my steward” and then calling the stewards hotline (541-346-0321). We’re here to help!