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Grievance Procedures for Postdocs

Having a union means that employees have "due process" rights to a fair hearing if an employer treats the employee unfairly by violating the terms and conditions of employment contained in the Collective Negotiations Agreement. The Agreement protects employees from arbitrary, non-legitimate dismissal by their employer. 

If an employee should ever be concerned about the possibility of discipline or being fired (loss of employment) at Rutgers, contacting the union office for a confidential consultation is recommended. Call the union office at (732) 964-1000 and ask to speak to Damon Fillman or write to him via email: dfillman@rutgersaaup.org

 

This information below is the exact language that appears in the union-negotiated Collective Negotiations Agreement for postdocs

Article VIII: Grievances

 

Informal Resolution of Disputes or Disagreements

The parties recognize the value of exploring informal resolution of disputes or disagreements between unit members and principal investigators or supervisors prior to the initiation of a grievance under this article, and mutually encourage such attempts at informal resolution. Such efforts at informal resolution shall not suspend the timeliness requirements for filing a grievance as set forth below. Any agreements reached through an informal resolution process shall be reduced to writing and shall not be precedential, but shall be binding for the current matter only. Informal resolution may take place at anytime during the process outlined below. Informal resolution does not modify or alter the terms of this collective negotiations Agreement.

Definition of grievances under this article

Grievances under this article are claimed violations of any provision of this Agreement or of any Rutgers policy relating to mandatorily negotiable terms and conditions of employment which has been presented pursuant to this Article.

A grievance under this Article may be presented by a bargaining unit member or members if more than one member has been affected, and/or by the Union (hereinafter collectively referred to as the "grievant(s)."

 

Grievance Process

1) A grievance must be filed in writing with the Office of Academic Labor Relations on a form acceptable to the University as described in Section C. 1 below within 60 working days of the date of the occurrence of the alleged violation or within 60 working days from the date the aggrieved unit member(s) knew or should reasonably have known of the occurrence of the alleged violation.

2) The grievance filing may include a request by the grievant(s) for mediation. The mediator will be selected from the existing panel of mediators mutually agreed upon by the AAUP-AFT and the University. The mediator shall be selected in standard rotation order for this cohort. The parties will attempt to obtain and schedule a mediation date within 30 days of a request. The results of the mediation, if successful, shall be reduced to writing and signed by the parties. No more than a total of six hours' service by the mediator shall be permitted for each grievance unless additional time is agreed to by the University and the Union. The fees associated with the mediator's services shall be divided equally between the parties. If no resolution is achieved through mediation, or if mediation is not requested, the grievance shall proceed as outlined below.

3) The University shall schedule a Step One meeting with the grievant(s) and any other appropriate parties within 20 working days of the filing of the grievance statement, or within 20 working days after mediation, whichever is applicable. At this Step One meeting, the parties will endeavor to settle the grievance. Any agreement will be reduced to writing and signed by the parties. If the matter remains unresolved at the conclusion of the Step One meeting, the University representative conducting the meeting shall render a written decision concerning the grievance within 20 working days of the Step One meeting.

4) If the grievant(s) is not satisfied with the disposition of the grievance at Step One, within 20 working days of the written Step One decision, the grievant(s) may appeal the Step One decision by requesting in writing a resolution by the Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs or his/her designee ("EVPAA"). Such written request shall be filed with the Office of Academic Labor Relations and shall include the initial grievance statement, the Step One decision, and a statement of the reasons that form the basis of the appeal. The EVP AA shall conduct whatever investigation he/she feels is necessary in order to render a decision concerning the grievance. The EVPAA shall render a written decision within 30 working days after the filing of the written appeal by the grievant(s). The decision of the EVPAA shall be final and binding on all parties, except as set forth below in Section 5.

5) Notwithstanding the above, grievances in which the bargaining unit member alleges a violation of Article VII, Salaries, may be appealed by the union to binding arbitration on behalf of a member or members of the bargaining unit as outlined in paragraph B.5.a. below.

a. If the Union is not satisfied with the decision of the EVPAA, within 20 working days of the written decision of the EVPAA, the Union may request in writing that the grievance be submitted to arbitration. If the AAUP-AFT submits a grievance to arbitration, the AAUP-AFT will submit to the Office of Academic Labor Relations a copy of its submission. The arbitrator will be selected from the existing panel of mediators/arbitrators mutually agreed upon by the AAUP-AFT and the University. The arbitrator shall be selected in standard rotation order for this cohort, except that the person who previously served as mediator shall not arbitrate the same grievance. The appointed arbitrator will submit, within thirty (30) calendar days of the close of the hearing, a written decision. No arbitrator functioning under the provisions of this grievance procedure shall have the authority to amend, modify, or delete any provision of this Agreement. The arbitrator's decision shall be binding upon the University and the AAUP-AFT, and the grievant, to the extent permitted by and in accordance with applicable law and this Agreement. The fees associated with the arbitrator's services shall be divided equally between the parties.

C. Provisions applicable to grievances under this article

All grievances must be filed on a form acceptable to the University and specifically set forth which provision of this Agreement and/or Rutgers Policy is alleged to have been violated, who is alleged to have committed the violation, when and where the alleged violation occurred, and the relief sought, and must be signed by the unit member(s) filing the grievance or in the case of a grievance filed by the Union, specify the unit member(s) for whom the grievance is filed and their departments/academic units.

Any written decision or written answer to a grievance made at any step which is not advanced to the next step within the time limits provided, or such additional period of time as may be mutually agreed upon in writing, shall be considered final. If the University should exceed the time limits in replying to any grievance at any step in the grievance procedure, the grievance may be advanced to the next step within the time limitations for advancing a grievance.

"Working Days" are all days on which the administrative offices of the University are open for business as specified in the University administrative calendar.

The timelines of a grievance submitted shall be determined by the date on which the original written grievance statement is received by the Office of Academic Labor Relations. Electronic and/or faxed submission of a written grievance statement shall be permitted. The time limits pursuant to this article may not be modified unless in writing by mutual agreement of the grievant(s) and the Office of Academic Labor Relations. Efforts at informal resolution shall not suspend the timeliness requirements for filing a grievance.

The filing of a grievance under the provisions of this Article shall not prevent the University from taking the action complained of, subject however to the final decision on the grievance. Pending final disposition of the grievance, the aggrieved unit member(s) shall fulfill his/her professional duties as assigned. Failure to do so may result in discipline.

This grievance article procedure, whether or not pursued, shall constitute the sole and exclusive remedy of bargaining unit member(s) and the Union for all claims cognizable under this procedure.

The parties affirm the importance of resolving claimed violations in a manner which respects both the unit member(s) and the work for which the unit member(s) has been hired. With that in mind, efforts shall be made by all parties to ensure that this process is carried out efficiently and expeditiously. 

 

Article XV - Discplinary Process

No unit member shall be discharged, suspended or otherwise disciplined except for a legitimate, non-arbitrary reason that, given the facts and circumstances known to the employer, exists at the time.

The sole and exclusive remedy for unit members receiving written disciplinary action shall be to file a grievance in accordance with the Grievance Procedure set forth in this Agreement (see above, Article VIII of the postdoc contract)

Written reprimands, letters of suspension and letters of termination given to a unit member will contain the reasons for such action. All such notices shall be sent regular mail, e-mail or delivered in person to the unit member.

A unit member shall, upon request, be entitled to have a union representative present at an investigatory meeting or questioning which the unit member reasonably believes could result in disciplinary action.

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