Our union fights to protect the rights of State of Nebraska workers through our negotiated grievance process. The grievance process is the way in which workers and their representatives seek restitution for violations of the union’s contract with the State. NAPE picked up a big win recently in defending the right of State workers to pursue grievances in such cases.
The victory came as part of a grievance regarding the promotion process filed by a NDOT NAPE member in Grand Island. In the first step of the grievance process, NDOT denied the grievance, and NAPE appealed on the worker’s behalf to the Department of Administrative Services. At that point, a DAS hearing officer dismissed the appeal on the grounds that the worker’s claims were not grievable, effectively tossing the case out without hearing any arguments on the merits of the claim.
NAPE, on behalf of the worker, appealed the decision of the DAS hearing officer and brought the matter before the State Personnel Board arguing that the hearing officer did not have the authority to dismiss the grievance, because our contract defines grievance, and our member’s claim met the definition.
The State Personnel Board appointed Judge C. Thomas White as hearing officer, and Judge White ruled that the DAS hearing officer, by dismissing the grievance, violated the labor contract. As a result, not only was this case returned to DAS for a decision on its merits so it could at the least be properly heard, but also the rights of State workers to a substantive and fair grievance process consistent with our contract with the State were reaffirmed. It’s a very important precedent.
By diligently pursuing cases like this one, our union regularly demonstrates its commitment to safeguarding State workers’ rights at work. It’s just one of the ways the union makes us strong. NDOT can appeal the decision, but NAPE is fully prepared to continue fighting in the District Court if necessary.
If you’re not a member of the union yet and want more information about membership or about how to join, click here, contact your local steward, or contact NAPE headquarters. If you’re a member of the union and want to learn more about protections and procedures like those described above, consider becoming a steward or contact the NAPE offices with questions.