Your Responsibilities and the Lodge’s Responsibilities
A grievance is defined as a dispute or difference between the parties of the contract concerning interpretation and/or application of the contract or its provisions.
There are actions taken against officers by the Department that are unfair. Some actions violate Department Rules or even violate the law. However, just because something is unfair or even illegal, does not make it a grievance. Before filing a grievance, read the contract to find out if a violation has in fact occurred. If in doubt, talk to the Watch or Unit FOP Representative or call the Lodge office. Remember, other remedies exist for officers who have been wronged when the contract hasn’t been violated, such as civil suits, CR numbers, Labor Board Complaints, etc.
It makes the officer’s case stronger and the grievance process move more expediently if the grievant can maintain any documents that support his/her cause, i.e., copies of time due slips, A&A sheets, etc., and send these along with the grievance. It also helps if the grievant requests that pertinent communication tapes are preserved.
A grievance may be initiated by the Lodge or an aggrieved officer. Any officer shall have the right to present a grievance at any time, although it is understood that the officer should attempt to satisfy his concerns on an informal basis before invoking the procedure. In the event an informal resolution proves to be unsatisfactory, a grievance may be filed in a form to be agreed upon between the Lodge and the Employer and shall be processed in accordance with this Agreement. Upon request, the grievant shall be represented by an appropriate Lodge representative, provided, however, the grievant officer may have the grievance adjusted without a Lodge representative, so long as such adjustment is not inconsistent with the provisions of this Agreement.
Step 1 Initiating Your Grievance
Once you have been suspended or exercised your options for suspension, you must file your grievance within 7 of your working days (or within 7 working days following the events or circumstances giving rise to the grievance or were first known by the grievant, for non-suspension grievances). (If you are on furlough, medical, etc. and not at work, you have up to 35 calendar days to file. However, it is recommended that you file as soon as possible.)
The following wording should be used for suspension grievances:
Grievant officer was suspended for (fill in number of days) as the result of CR # (fill in the Complaint Register Number). Grievant officer feels this is punishment without just cause. Grievant officer seeks to have pay/benefits restored, the suspension record expunged and the contract made whole.
You should copy this wording on a grievance form and should cite Article 8 and other related articles as the contract sections violated. (It is recommended that a photo copy be made and forwarded to the Lodge at this time.)
You should present the completed grievance form to your immediate supervisor within 7 days of the suspension.
Step 2 Supervisor’s Response
Once you have filed your grievance with your immediate supervisor, the supervisor will complete the center portion of the grievance form and will set forth his/her response within 7 calendar days. Generally, in suspension cases, the supervisor’s response is that it is beyond their scope of authority to resolve the grievance.
The Supervisor then must submit the completed form to the Unit CO who will also write a response to the grievance within 14 calendar days. Once the response is completed the Unit CO will provide the appropriate copy to the Unit Representative and the Grievant. The remainder of the form is forwarded to the Management Labor and Affairs Section, who in turn will forward the FOP a copy of the grievance.
Step 3 Mediation
There are two forums in which suspension grievances are resolved, they are:
Summary Opinions: This expedited process allows for suspension grievances to be reviewed by an arbitrator selected from a panel of arbitrators. The arbitrator receives the grievances along with a copy of the CR investigative file and after a review issues a written Opinion. The Opinion sets forth a recommendation for settlement of the officer’s grievance; however, the Opinion is not binding.
Settlement Conferences: The Opinions are discussed each month at a meeting with MLAS where we have experienced great success in settling grievances. Prior to the MLAS meeting the officer has already received a copy of the Opinion and has been given an opportunity to appear before the Grievance Committee if he does not agree with the arbitrator. In addition, previous arbitration decisions are sometimes also reviewed which can lead to settlement of grievances.
Step 4 Arbitration
Finally, if an officer’s grievance has not been settled through the Mediation step of the grievance procedure, the officer’s grievance can then be forwarded to an arbitration hearing.
If you should need assistance in filing your grievance, please call the F.O.P. offices and we will be happy to assist you.
Richard L. Aguilar