Board Proposal to Change Article 8: Grievance
AU has proposed the following changes to the grievance process:
1. AU would decide whether AU had failed to prevent harassment.
2. Grievances would be time-barred after 30 days.
The overall effect of these proposals is to make it harder for AUFA to enforce members’ rights under the collective agreement. More details on these proposals follow below.
AU Decides Whether AU Has Failed to Prevent Harassment
At present, if AUFA believes AU has violated the collective agreement, AUFA may file a grievance. If AU and AUFA cannot resolve the difference, the matter is referred to an arbitrator (i.e., a neutral third party) for resolution.
AU presently has an obligation under Article 10 to provide a harassment-free work environment. If an AUFA member believes they are being harassed, AU is required to investigate and remedy the situation. If AU does not adequately resolve the issue, AUFA can grieve the employer’s inaction on behalf of the member.
AU is proposing that the Executive Officer would be the final step in any harassment grievance (instead of the grievance proceeding to arbitration). What this means is that AU would be in the position of deciding whether or not it has violated the collective agreement.
This proposal creates an obvious conflict of interest because one cannot render an impartial judgment on one’s own case. This proposal is particularly worrying given that AU routinely declines to resolve with harassment grievances short of arbitration.
At present, AUFA can file a grievance alleging a violation of the collective agreement at any time. This arrangement reflects three things:
1. The distributed nature of AU means AUFA and AUFA members are often not immediately aware of when AU violates the collective agreement.
2. It can often take time to AUFA and AUFA members to adequately determine the true nature and extent of the violation.
3. Some violations become apparent only over time and realizing a fair remedy requires correcting errors that often occurred years ago.
For example, AUFA recently won a grievance about AU’s repeated re-hiring of term employees over a period of 10 or more years to do “temporary” work. The arbitrator found this behaviour was a violation of Article 5 (Term Appointments) because the work was clearly not temporary.
Earlier this week, you were sent an email with background information about the AU’s proposed changes to the grievance process.
Please indicate your support or opposition to the following changes that AU has proposed to the collective agreement’s provisions on grievances.
1. Do you support allowing AU to decide whether it has violated the harassment provisions of the collective agreement?
2. Do you support prohibiting grievances if AU’s violation of the contract was more than 30 days ago?
Abstain: 8% *
* Total does not equal 100 due to rounding.