NAPE members who work at 24 hour facilities can be assigned mandatory overtime shifts, however, management must assign overtime in accordance with our negotiated contract. At the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (NDVA), our contract requires that management assign overtime to the employee who is on duty on the shift immediately prior to the overtime assignment who is at the top of the overtime roster, which rotates after an employee performs four hours of mandatory overtime.
NAPE member Registered Nurse Rachel Krul works at the Western Nebraska Veterans’ Home in Scottsbluff as the clinic nurse. Her normal schedule is Monday-Friday from 6am-2:30pm. When the Veterans’ Home became short staffed, management assigned Rachel to work an extra shift in the middle of the night from 10pm-2am. Rachel filed a grievance which alleged NDVA management violated our NAPE contract because she was not eligible to be assigned the overnight overtime shift because she was not in the facility on the shift immediately prior and she was not at the top of the overtime assignment roster.
The Department of Veterans’ Affairs fought the grievance, arguing that during a staffing emergency they can reassign schedules. After an arbitration hearing, the arbitrator rejected NDVA’s arguments. The arbitrator found that adding an extra shift to an employee’s schedule is, by definition, overtime. The arbitrator also found that NDVA failed to follow the overtime assignment procedures, and ordered NDVA to follow the assignment procedures in the future.
Shortly after filing her overtime grievance, Rachel found herself being called to a meeting with management regarding sending her supervisor too many emails. Rachel asked if she could be disciplined as a result of the meeting, and asked for her union representative to attend the meeting. Rachel was denied the opportunity to have a union representative present, and NDVA proceeded to formally discipline her anyway with a written warning.
NAPE filed another grievance on Rachel’s behalf challenging the disciplinary action because there was no just cause, and she was told the meeting held with management would not lead to disciplinary action. After a short grievance hearing, a hearing officer overturned the disciplinary action and ordered it removed from her personal file. The hearing officer found that there was no just cause to discipline Rachel because she violated no agency policy and her communications with her supervisor were to seek clarification on agency procedures.
24 hour facilities frequently assign mandatory overtime without following the negotiated procedures in our contract. If you find yourself in a situation where you think overtime is being assigned improperly, please contact us for assistance. Additionally, you are entitled to have union representation at any meeting which may lead to disciplinary action. You must invoke your right to have a representative present. Please contact us immediately if you find yourself in a potentially disciplinary situation.