Nebraska Association
of Public Employees

Norfolk Members Reclassified After Filing Grievance

NAPE/AFSCME member and union steward Brian Bierschenk works for the Department of Health and Human Services in Norfolk. Back in 2018, Brian took on a role as a DHHS Quality Control Specialist. Through his time working in this position, it came to Brian’s attention that he might not be classified appropriately. When Brian realized this, he reached out to NAPE right away for assistance in getting reclassified. 

Every state employee works within a specific job classification. This job classification defines the distinguishing characteristics, examples of work, required knowledge, skills, abilities, and any necessary qualifications for a given position with the State of Nebraska. Additionally, each job classification has a step pay plan negotiated into the labor contract by NAPE/AFSCME. Not only does NAPE/AFSCME negotiate the salary for each position, but our union has also negotiated a process by which state employees can attempt to get reclassified. Article 19 of the labor contract guarantees employees the right to be classified appropriately and gives them a tool to request reclassification if they do not agree with their current classification. This is the tool that Brian used. 

Brian requested a reclassification using Article 19 of the labor contract by completing a Position Description Questionnaire (PDQ). Knowing that employees can only submit one request per year, Brian was sure to work with NAPE’s field staff to submit the best possible PDQ. The NAPE team assisted Brian with completing the paperwork. Brian also knew that he was due a response within 45 work days of his PDQ being submitted. When he didn’t get this response, he worked with the NAPE team to file a grievance to prompt a timely response. 

In the end, DHHS and DAS agreed that Brian was misclassified. He was ultimately reclassified as a Program Accuracy Specialist, a classification that more closely fits his job duties. In Brian’s case, this also came with a significant pay increase retroactive to when the reclassification took effect. This was not only a victory for Brian, but for his entire team. Brian’s coworkers also submitted PDQs and were reclassified with a pay increase as well. Brian’s advocacy for his team helped to ensure that they would all be classified (and paid) appropriately, as is their right under the contract.

It’s important that state employees are classified correctly because they deserve to be recognized for the work they do. In some cases, being misclassified can result in an employee being underpaid. In Brian’s case, his reclassification came with a significant pay increase. If you believe you may be misclassified, please reach out to NAPE right away. That said, it’s important to note that PDQs are not the appropriate tool for state employees to use if they want to fight for wage increases. The correct tool is collective bargaining. We are in contract negotiations now with the State of Nebraska regarding all classifications. State employees achieve wage increases through joining their union and getting involved in contract negotiations. Join NAPE/AFSCME in our fight for wage increases that outpace inflation today!

Nebraska Association of
Public Employees