- While every workplace issue is unique, the UICUF grievance committee can offer advice and support.
- Don’t wait to address it: The longer you wait, the harder it may be to deal with it, especially if it requires filing an official grievance.
- Notify UICUF: Most issues UICUF intervenes in are solved without formal grievance procedures, and your privacy is always a priority.
- Write it all down: Keeping notes of the events that led you to contact your union can help you compose your thoughts, and serve as a reliable record during the grievance process.
Last week, we went into some detail about our new Grievance Committee and how it operates. This week, faculty were invited to attend grievance trainings to help members understand what a grievance is, and how the process works. Today we’re going to offer advice on how to proceed if you think you have grounds for a grievance.
Filing a grievance is a formal process for addressing a violation of the faculty contract. It is useful to know, however, that our grievance team commonly assists with issues that don’t rise to the level of a formal grievance. This leads us to our first and most important piece of advice.
Don’t Wait to Address the Issue
We’ve said this many times in communications in the past, and are repeating it here because it may be the single most important thing to remember when you’re facing a workplace issue: DON’T WAIT!
There are myriad practical reasons not to let a workplace issue linger unaddressed, from allowing bad behavior to become normalized, to risking further harm in the meantime. From a grievance standpoint, a failure to address an issue in a timely manner may mean sacrificing the option to file an official grievance at all.
Per our current contract, you have 30 days from when you should reasonably have known about an issue to file a grievance, and it is best to consider such an undertaking well ahead of that deadline when possible. The best thing to do if you’re experiencing a workplace issue is to get in touch with a union representative or email us at UICUnitedfaculty@gmail.com.
UICUF’s Grievance Committee, College Representatives, and trained staff, are all here for the express purpose of assisting faculty with workplace issues. We can advise and guide you in seeking informal solutions on your own, help organize a response with other colleagues experiencing similar problems, or intervene directly as appropriate.
We understand that considering taking this step can be daunting, and may bring up a lot of questions. For your peace of mind, we want our members to know first and foremost that we will always respect your confidentiality, and will work with you to develop a plan of action that you are comfortable with. With a team made up primarily of fellow faculty members, we are sensitive to concerns about hierarchical positions within the university, and the need to maintain relationships with colleagues long term. We work to resolve concerns informally where possible, and our team will not pursue an official grievance on your behalf without your knowledge and consent.
If you are experiencing a workplace issue, we highly encourage you to take some notes on what happened/is happening. We’ve consistently found that simply writing things down helps members organize their thoughts and explain the situation in a clear and focused way. Especially in cases that do enter the official grievance process, notes can also provide a durable account of what happened, even if hearings take place weeks or months later. Taking a few minutes to write down your thoughts, and maintaining a record of related communications, can be tremendously useful!
A Few Words About Disciplinary Cases
While we actually have a whole other article about disciplinary issues, many of our most serious grievances come from cases of inappropriate discipline, so we wanted to cover a couple of basics here.
First, remember your Weingarten Rights. In short, these are your rights to have a union representative at any disciplinary meeting, including any meeting you think may lead to discipline. You’re also within your rights to stop a meeting in progress if you feel it has become disciplinary in nature. Critically, you must assert this right (simply stating you are asserting your Weingarten Rights to representation is sufficient), or you forfeit it.
Second, discipline may not be arbitrary and must be proportionate to the supposed infraction.. The disciplinary process should be positive and progressive in nature, meaning that its goal is to provide a path for improvement. The discipline should follow steps of increasing severity, but only if the issue isn’t resolved.
As always, if you have questions, or you think you may have a workplace issue that you want to discuss with a union representative, you can email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.
We issue regular updates via email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and on our website. We encourage everyone to like and follow us on social media. If you want to contribute your story, pictures, video, or other content related to the activities of the union, email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com. With your support, we are making UIC an even better place to work and learn!